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HARP housing refinance program extended through 2016

Published May 21, 2015

Times staff

Are you current on your mortgage payments? Did you get your loan before May 31, 2009?

If so, you could be among the nearly 15,000 Tampa Bay homeowners eligible to refinance under a federal program that could save you an average of $177 a month.

The Federal Home Finance Agency says it will extend its popular Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, through 2016. To qualify, your loan must be owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae and have a current loan-to-value ratio greater than 80 percent.

If you borrowed $100,000, for example, and your home is currently worth just $85,000, you would have a loan-to-value ratio of 85 percent. Many loans obtained from banks, credit unions or mortgage companies are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, though that has not always apparent because they don't deal directly with the public.

After the housing bubble burst and home prices plunged, HARP was created in 2009 to help borrowers whose mortgage payments are current but who are underwater or almost underwater on their homes.

As of Dec. 31, more than 3 million homeowners had refinanced through HARP. In addition to primary residences, the program also allows refinancing of loans on one-unit second homes and one- to four-unit investment properties.

For more information go to harp.gov.

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