The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is a federal program of the United States, set up by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in March 2009, to help underwater and near-underwater homeowners refinance their mortgages. Unlike the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which assists homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure, this program benefits homeowners whose mortgage payments are current, but who cannot refinance due to dropping home prices in the wake of the U.S. housing market correction.
It’s not just about the rate anymore. Negative equity, strict underwriting and big bank backlogs are keeping many borrowers from taking advantage of these incredibly low mortgage rates.
Homeowners whose mortgage balance exceeds the current property value know the futility of trying to refinance. Refinancing options for so-called “underwater” mortgages are limited because most lenders require some equity in the property.