New rules allow more holders of underwater mortgages to refinance

Changes in the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, remove some refinancing barriers for those with underwater loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Money Talk

Dear Liz: I have an adjustable-rate mortgage that is currently at 3.125%. I’d like to fix the rate, but no one will even discuss it with me because my house has been appraised at less than $100,000 and the balance of the mortgage is $144,319. I have never been late, and my credit scores are above 800. What can I do? I don’t want a mortgage modification. I just want a fixed rate.
Answer: If your loan was backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and if it was originated before June 1, 2009, you may be in luck, thanks to recent improvements to the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP.
Federal officials eliminated certain fees and barriers that made lenders reluctant to refinance underwater mortgages. They also eliminated the limit on how far underwater you could be to get help. In the past, you could owe no more than 125% of a home’s value.

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