Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida leads country in homeowners eligible for HARP refinancing

Florida leads the nation in the number of homeowners eligible to refinance under a popular federal program, and a lot of them are here in the Tampa Bay area.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, nearly 11,000 bay area homeowners could still take advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program, commonly called HARP, before it expires at the end of next year.

Almost half of those are in Hillsborough County, which ranks ninth among all U.S. counties in the number of eligible homeowners.

The program is aimed at helping those who have so little equity in their homes that it can be difficult to find a lender willing to refinance. But if you are current on your payments and have a mortgage that originated before May 31, 2009, and is guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, relief could be on the way.

"There has been a concerted push to get the word out and draw the attention of these homeowners who qualify," said Stefanie Johnson, a housing agency spokesperson.

In addition to sending emissaries to Miami and to six other cities, the agency started several Twitter campaigns, including #HARPfacts, and has mailed information about the program to homeowners.

Through HARP, borrowers can get a lower interest rate, a shorter loan term or change from an adjustable to fixed-rate mortgage. Savings can be as much as $200 a month.

The housing agency launched HARP in 2009 when many homeowners who had bought or refinanced at the peak of the bubble saw their values plunge as the market crashed. Since then, the program has undergone major changes to simplify the application process and encourage more lenders and borrowers to participate.

Among the changes: Appraisals are no longer needed in most cases, and less documentation is required to verify incomes. Loan-to-value caps were abolished, so borrowers can refinance regardless of how far underwater they are on their mortgages.

More than 3.3 million homeowners nationwide have refinanced through HARP, and another 429,000 are eligible. Florida leads the way with 58,518 eligible owners, far more than runners-up Michigan and Ohio.

Among metro areas, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area ranks seventh with 10,707 eligible homeowners; Hillsborough County alone has 4,268.

HARP refinancing is available for second homes and one-to-four unit investment properties as well as for owner-occupied homes. Participating lenders include big banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Before contacting the lender, though, homeowners can go to harp.gov to determine if their loans are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac — if not, there's no point in proceeding. The website gives more detailed information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin @smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

Florida leads country in homeowners eligible for HARP refinancing 11/16/15 [Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2015 7:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.