Tag: home affordable refinance program

How to Refinance a Home Loan


Want to save money on your mortgage? Refinancing might be the best way to take advantage of the historically low rates. Depending on your goal, make make great financial sense to refinance your mortgage. Here’s what you need to know to make the best decision.

Benefits of Refinancing your Home Loan

Before you refinance your home loan, it is important to determine your financial goals. Do you want a lower interest rate? Do you want to change your adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage? Do you want to pay off your loan in 15 years instead of 30? Do you want to lower your monthly payments? Did you know you can also refinance to consolidate a first and second mortgage? You can also extend your current loan to cash out if you want to start a business, help a family member in financial crisis, or go on an expensive vacation.

Do the math.

Ask your loan officer to help you figure out how much refinancing will cost you, and how much you’ll save over the long term. If refinancing will save you $200 per month, but you have to pay $2,000 in closing costs, you’ll break even in 10 months. How much longer do you plan to stay in the home? If you plan to stay there for more than 10 months, refinancing may be a good idea. If you’d like to move out sooner, the costs associated with refinancing may not be worth it. Also, if you lower your interest rate but extend your loan from a 15-year to a 30-year, you’ll lower your monthly payments but end up paying more interest over the life of the loan.

Talk to a loan officer to review your mortgage refinancing options.

If you decide refinancing is right for you, start by calling loan officer. He or she may be able to save you on closing costs and other fees by recommending a loan program specifically for your situation. Before you start the process it is important to do your research to find the best loan option to meet your goals. Do not just settle for what your current bank offers just because you have a car loan or checking account there; let your lender know that you’re shopping for mortgages so you can make an informed decision and perhaps he or she will find a way to offer a better deal.

Know your refinancing options.

Find out if you are eligible for any special refinance programs that may benefit you over the standard refinance mortgage. For example, if you currently have an FHA loan, you may qualify for an FHA streamline refinance, which would allow you to refinance with no appraisal, no income, and little to no closing costs. If you currently have a conventional mortgage, you may qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which may allow you to refinance, regardless of your home’s value, with no out-of-pocket costs.

Expect to gather documentation and paperwork.

Refinancing your home loan is a process that usually comes with a significant amount of paperwork to document your income assets and passed credit. Do not be overwhelmed by the request for documents with the current laws and underwriting guidelines. Even those with perfect credit have to provide the same documentation to get a home loan or mortgage refinance.

When you work out the details of your refinance mortgage, your loan officer will help you navigate the steps from initial loan consultation to closing. Be prepared to provide documentation, including driver’s license, social security card, one month of paystubs, two months of bank statements, past two years of W-2 statements, and your current mortgage statement.

Once you sign your application and send in the documentation, your loan officer will send in your file for underwriting, which may require additional documentation. You may also be required to complete a home appraisal. When you’re finally approved in underwriting, you’ll be cleared to close. Your loan officer will review the final figures, you’ll have to pay closing fees and documents, and then the process is complete.

Steps to Refinancing your Home Loan

1) Initial Mortgage Consultation
2) Sign application
3) Send required documents – (drivers license, social security card, 1 month paystubs, 2 months bank statements, past 2 years w2 statements, current mortgage statement)
4) Underwriting Process
5) Complete the Appraisal (if required)
6) Clear to Close – (once fully approved in underwriting your loan will be “Cleared to Close” and scheduled for closing)
7) Meet for the Home Loan Closing

For more information about what Riverbank Finance offers for refinancing, schedule an appointment with one of our loan officers by calling 800-555-2098 or fill out our online refinance application or by completing the form below.

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Top 9 HARP Refinance Myths for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Home Loans

Harp mortgage refinance program.With over 2.9 million homeowners refinancing with the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), there are still many people that are not taking advantage by refinancing their homes. There is a variety of reasons in which these homeowners are choosing not to drop their home loan rates with a mortgage refinance. Many of these reasons are simply myths or assumptions that are made based on their prior knowledge of the refinance process. Tracy Mooney, Vice president of Single-Family Servicing and Real Estate Owned (REO), has taken the time to publish an article debunking these top HARP Myths.

HARP Myth 1: I’ve had my loan for many years, and with HARP I’d have to start all over again with a 30-year mortgage.

Answer:  This is incorrect. Borrowers that have had a conventional loan for several years are able to do a HARP refinance and shorten their term. Many borrowers choose to go with a 15 year or 20 year loan and reduce their interest rates while taking several years off their mortgage. A borrower may be able to accomplish this and keep their payment the same as their current 30 year mortgage.

HARP Myth 2: I’m receiving too many solicitations to help me refinance. They must be scams.

Answer: There are several mortgage companies and banks that offer HARP refinancing so these offers may all be legitimate. It is important to note, however, that not all banks and mortgage companies are equal. Most lenders have overlays on top of HARP Eligibility Requirements that prevent them from doing the refinance loan. If you have tried one company and been turned down, it is recommended that you check with another company that may offer programs such as unlimited LTV loans, lower minimum credit scores and both Fannie Mae HARP mortgages and Freddie Mac HARP Mortgages.

HARP Myth 3: I am really underwater on my mortgage. HARP can’t be for homeowners like me.

Answer: HARP has been updated several times since its inception in 2009. Currently both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans allow for unlimited Loan-to-Value (LTV) refinancing. As noted previously, most banks and lenders have overlays and limits for their LTV. It is important to find a mortgage lender that offers higher level LTV refinances for homeowners severely underwater on their home loan.

HARP Myth 4: I recently lost my job, so no one is going to help me refinance through HARP.

Answer: If you have recently lost your job you may still be able to get a lower rate with HARP. Your current mortgage servicer may allow for a HARP Refinance without income in some situations but most lenders will allow you to income qualify using a co-borrower. One of the original borrowers must remain on the loan to qualify. The combined income is what will be used to calculate the Debt-to-Income (DTI). Alternatively, if you have available funds equal to at least 12 months of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, then you may be eligible without proving income.

HARP Myth 5: My lender doesn’t offer HARP, so I can’t refinance through the program.

Answer: Yes; you may be eligible to refinance through any other mortgage company that offer the HARP Mortgage Program.

HARP Myth 6: My lender doesn’t offer HARP, so I can’t refinance through the program.

Answer: Yes; you may be eligible to refinance through any other mortgage company that offer the HARP Mortgage Program.

HARP Myth 7: I have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), so I am not eligible.

Answer: HARP was created to offer more stable and sustainable mortgage options for homeowners in your very situation. Speak with your loan officer about fixed rate mortgage loans to have long term stability in your payments. Alternatively, you may utilize HARP to extend your adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) for an additional 5 or 7 years at lower rates.

HARP Myth 8: I don’t have enough cash to pay closing costs, so I can’t refinance through HARP.

Answer: Event with a HARP refinance, you may be able to refinance with little or no money out of pocket.  For many homeowners, you may be able to roll any closing costs and pre-paid items such as taxes and insurance into your new mortgage. Some lender may also offer options to credit back money to help cover the expenses of closing costs so you truly have a no cost mortgage. Be sure to speak with your loan officer to review what loan options you are eligible for through HARP.

HARP Myth 9: HARP is only for homeowners who are behind on their payments and in danger of foreclosure.

Answer: The Making Home Affordable program offered two home loan solutions for borrowers that were at high interest rates and were previously unable to refinance. The Home Affordable Modification Program allows homeowners that were behind on their loan payments to apply for a modification of their current terms to allow them to save on their payments. This is commonly confused with the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) which is for clients whom have paid their payments on time and would qualify for a conventional refinance if they did not owe more than their house was worth. The HARP program is for borrowers with good credit that simply want to lower their interest rate and payments.

For more information on the HARP refinance program call a licensed loan officer at Riverbank at 800-555-2098 or request information below:

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Federal Housing and FInance Authority

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been extended again and will no longer expire on the original date of December 31 of 2012. Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced the extension of the program designed for homeowners that have been unable to refinance due to their underwater mortgages.

The extension was announced to continue the damage control and efforts to reduce losses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government sponsored entities that were bailed out following the economic collapse.

What is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)

HARP was created through an announcement from the Obama Administration near the end of the year in 2009. The programs allows homeowners with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refinance to lower interest rates even if they owe more than their home is worth. The program supports high loan-to-value (LTV) ratios and requires limited documentation for homeowner to qualify. Many times an appraisal is not required for a HARP refinance.

When does the Home Affordable Refinance Program expire?

Following the announcement form the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) the HARP program will now expire on December 31st, 2015. The two year extension of the Home Affordable Refinance Programs is expected to allow millions more homeowners to reduce their mortgage payments to the current historically low rates. Since the program’s inception in 2009, HARP refinancing haw allow over 2 million borrowers to drop their rate and terms.

“More than 2 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP, proving it a useful tool for reducing risk,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. “We are extending the program so more underwater borrowers can benefit from lower interest rates.”

Due to the overwhelming success of the HARP program, HARP 2.0 was announced removing LTV requirements and making qualifying easier. Since HARP 2.0 announcement in the fall of 2011, more banks and lenders have expanded their guidelines and allowed HARP refinancing for their current loans.

Apply for the HARP refinance program

Contact the experts and knowledgeable mortgage officers at Riverbank Finance today to check out the latest mortgage rates and have your questions answered about HARP today.

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Bank or Broker for a HARP Mortgage Refinance?

bank loan officer or mortgage brokerMany people have the misconception that to qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program they must contact their current servicer to refinance when they are underwater.  This is not the case.  While your current servicer or bank may be able to offer one option to drop your payment, many times they do not offer the programs necessary to complete a refinance through the HARP program.  After all do they really want you to refinance and lower your interest rate when they directly benefit from keeping you at a high rate?

Not sure what we are talking about, read our previous article: What is HARP?

Many of our clients here at Riverbank Finance have been turned down for the HARP program by their bank or other banks and get discouraged that they will not be able to drop their interest rate and payments to today’s low levels until they call us.  There are many qualification and eligibility factors that are involved in refinancing your home through the government’s Making Home Affordable Program (HARP).

For more information on General HARP eligibility read: HARP Eligibility

These factors include who actually owns your mortgage (it is most likely not the bank that collects your payments), how much your house is worth verses what you owe (Loan-to-Value ratio), if you have mortgage insurance, and of course the other general loan requirements such as how much you make verses what you pay out (Debt-to-Income ratio), credit scores and how much money you have in the bank (assets).

With all these factors that are taken into consideration when determining eligibility for the HARP program the chance that you may qualify with the bank that you are currently at based on their single set of guidelines is very slim.  This is why many people are more successful refinancing their home using a mortgage broker that works with several different banks that have different guidelines that they allow.

Let’s take who owns your mortgage for example.  Most loans are actually owned by the GSE (Government Sponsored Entities) Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  They then select a servicer to collect your payments so your payments might be paid to Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, Chase or other large banks.  They collect your payment, keep a percentage for themselves then send the payment to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  If your loan is owned by Freddie Mac and your bank doesn’t offer refinancing for Freddie Mac loans then your loan is denied instantly.

A mortgage broker, however, may have several banks that refinance loans owned by Fannie Mae and also have several banks that refinance loans owned by Freddie Mac.  The variety of options with such a specific program as the Home Affordable Refinance Program is a huge benefit for a homeowner that want to lower their mortgage payments to today’s low rates.

These days, mortgage brokers are a win-win for borrowers.  They offer several refinance programs homeowners and most of the time they are not charged a fee to have the mortgage broker do all of the work.  They may even be able to offer no cost loans which are nearly nonexistent by going through a bank.

To get started on a HARP refinance with a leading Mortgage Broker complete the form below and we will be glad to help you review your eligibility and loan options with you at no cost or call us today at 1-800-555-2098.

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Obama’s HARP 3.0 Proposal

HARP 3.0The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which was originally proposed by President Obama, may be expanded for the third time.  The program has been in effect for a while now and it seems as if it may undergo yet another transformation to help additional homeowners refinance. Our previous blog post covered the transition to HARP 2.0, which is the current program, and now it seems we will see the emergence of HARP 3.0.  This won’t be a small transformation in anyway as there are quite a few big changes that could benefit many homeowners.

The biggest changes we could see occur will include extension of dates, no income requirements, and higher LTV ratios. The eligibility date could be extended up to May 10, 2010.  This date was chosen, as it seems many home purchases made after this date were made with a mortgage rate below 5%. There will no longer be verification requirements for things such as employment and income (state income loans could make a come back). The loan-to-value or LTV will be switched from 125%, up to 140% for most investors.

Perhaps the biggest change that could draw it several homeowners is the adjustment made to the appraisal costs. Included in the proposal is a change that all borrowers who would require a manual appraisal should have the fee waved. This means that, if you’re someone who lives within a neighborhood that has been struggling with home sales recently. Then your appraisal would be completely waved.  This will save you time in refinancing and will help keep money in your pocket.  Of course, everybody loves free things, so this would be a huge benefit if HARP 3.0 becomes a reality.

All of this is a great attempt to quickly transform and turn around the housing market as soon as possible. This is definitely a step in the right direction to help out those remaining homeowners that are still struggling with their current mortgage payments and find themselves in “underwater” situations.

We here at Riverbank Finance are doing our best to eliminate the worries in the minds of countless homeowners here in Michigan by helping them with refinancing to these historically low rates.  We have partnered with several investors that participate in the HARP loans to offer the lowest rates and fees available.  Even if you have been turned down by other banks for the a HARP refinance, give us a call as we have great programs to transfer mortgage insurance, unlimited LTV loans, and we can even help if you have a second mortgage.

If you would like to see what a few of our previous clients had to say about us, be sure to check out our reviews on Google. Feel free to contact one of our licensed loan officers today at 1-800-555-2098 or complete the form below to see if you are eligible for a HARP refinance.

Request information for HARP 3.0

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Obama’s Plan to Help Responsible Homeowners

Responsible Homeowner HelpThe U.S. housing market has encountered its fair share of struggles over the past few years.  Luckily it seems things are beginning to turn around and hopefully President Obama’s plan will help boost the turn around time.  What exactly does the President have planned for our housing market and will it actually work?  Obama and his committee seem pretty confident in the plan they have laid-out.

There are several aspects to the plan so let’s begin with one of the main goals they hope to achieve.  The plan begins with broad based refinancing, to save upwards of $3,000 for responsible homeowners.  What does that mean though?  It gives borrowers who are current/up to date on their mortgage payments the ability to refinance and take advantage of today’s historically low rates.

The next step the President is hoping to accomplish is pushing through the “Homeowner Bill of Rights.”  This will ensure that borrowers and lenders abide by the same standards and “play nice” for once.  The following is a list of what this new bill brings to the table.

  • Borrowers must have access to a simple mortgage disclosure form in order to understand the loans they are taking out.
  • There must be a complete disclosure of penalties and fees.
  • Specific guidelines will be placed to prevent “conflicts of interest” which often wound up hurting homeowners.
  • A support system to help responsible families to avoid foreclosure.
  • Protection for families who may be facing inappropriate foreclosure along with the right of appeal.

You can expect to see foreclosed homes throughout the country being transformed into rental properties.  Major banks and the GSE’s will be providing upwards of 12 months of forbearance for any unemployed borrowers.

The next step is the establishment of a joint investigation aimed at determining the misconduct that had, in part, caused the recent financial crisis we encountered.  This will lead to establishing preventions to ensure the same mistakes will NEVER be made again.

These plans combine with the Making Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) will work together to help stabilize the housing market and the economy altogether.  If homeowners are able to save around thousands per year on their mortgage, this money will be put to good use buying products and services and pumping more money through the economy. If President Obama is able to get congress on the same page with his plans to help homeowners will be a game changer for the US.

For more information on the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) visit our previous posts or call a loan officer at 1-800-555-2098.

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loan Lookup Tool

Lookup Owner of Your Home LoanThe Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is a great opportunity for those homeowners who have found themselves in a sticky situation.  Anyone who is in an “underwater” situation with their mortgage, HARP was developed to solely help those people.  With extremely “relaxed” guidelines, it’s possible for the majority of homeowners to take full advantage of a program that could help potentially retool their lives by relieving the mass amount of stress being “underwater” brings along.  Before anyone can take advantage of the program, they must meet the standing guidelines.  Though they may be easy to meet, people should still be aware of the biggest guideline in place.  That they’re mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

How can you determine what company may own your loan though?  There’s actually a fairly simple way to search Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac databases to know if you meet the HARP guideline.  First up, we will check with the Fannie Mae databases.  First you need to head on over to their loan lookup tool, which will open in another window/tab.  From that point on, just follow the on screen information and enter the data required.  Once that is done, a message will come back either possibly confirming or denying the loan’s status on that property.  Now with Fannie Mae, they don’t guarantee the information is full proof meaning you may have to go to other measures they suggest in order to confirm the status of the loan.

The process with Freddie Mac is a bit more intensive but will lead you to a potential answer that you’re looking for.  Click on over to their loan lookup tool and again, just follow the on screen criteria.  Once you have entered all the necessary information, you’ll then know if you can qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

One last piece of criteria you need to be sure of is the sale date of your mortgage loan.  The HARP guidelines state; if your loan was sold to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on, or anytime, after June 1, 2009.  You cannot take advantage of the program.

Now of course there are other guidelines for HARP so be sure to review that information.  If you would like to receive some help regarding the HARP program; either call us at 1-800-555-2098 or fill out the email form below.

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Home Affordable Refinance Program Updating March 2012We’ve lightly discussed the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) on this blog in the recent past.  To freshen up your mind, HARP was instated to allow for those homeowners who are currently “underwater” to potentially refinance and get themselves into stress-free position regarding their mortgage rates.  HARP is beneficial to countless homeowners but that number of people eligible is about to skyrocket.

The U.S. Federal Government seems to have taken notice of the importance of this program.  Rules for eligibility of HARP will become far easier to meet than ever before once March 2012 roles around.  Potentially the biggest change to the rules of the program is the LTV cap.  Previously that cap was at 125% but once HARP is updated in March, that cap will be lifted.  Meaning, there will no longer be an LTV cap so those of you homeowners who previously had not qualified due to LTV.  Well that issue will now be non-existent.

Not everyone is out of the woods just yet though when it comes to qualifying.  There are some other things to take into account when determining if you actually qualify or not for HARP.  To start, we will need to check if your loan for the property is either guaranteed or owned by one of the two-following companies. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  There are a couple useful tools you can use to determine this.  Go to Freddie’s tool and Fannie’s tool to determine which of the two your loan could potentially run through.  If you wish to determine this over the phone, call 1-800-FREDDIE (Freddie Mac) or 1-800-7FANNIE (Fannie Mae).

One other tidbit of information you should be aware of is the date your loan was potentially sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.  Due to the HARP guidelines, any loan sold on or after June 1, 2009 to one of the two companies, is not eligible for the program.

We here at Riverbank Finance can help with any of your questions regarding the HARP program. Call us at: 1-800-555-2098.  If you wish to be contacted via email, just fill out the form below.

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Home Affordable Refinance Program Updates

Home Affordable Refinance LogoThere has been some exciting news which was recently released by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  These two government agencies who help support the housing financial system, have announced that they are loosening some of the guidelines on their popular Home Affordable Refinance Program also known as HARP.  This ultimately means that it will be easier for you to refinance and while you’re doing it get a better interest rate too.

One of the original benefits of HARP is that it allows homeowner’s to refinance even if they have lost equity in their home.  Under the current HARP program which was started in April of 2009, homeowners could refinance their homes even if they owed more on their home then it was worth.  They could get financing up to 125% of their appraised value.  The prospective borrower would not be able to get out extra money or consolidate debt through this refinance but would be able to get a lower interest rate and payment.  The government was effectively helping homeowners lower their overall monthly payments for those who might not normally qualify for the lower rates.  To qualify for the HARP program your loan would have to be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (Find out if your home is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by clicking the links).  Theoretically, this program was meant to help the U.S economy by allowing homeowner’s to refinance and save money on the their monthly payments.

HARP Program Updates

On December 1st, 2011 further enhancements to the HARP program were announced which made it even easier to qualify for this program.  Basically, the loan to value limit of 125% (seen above) has been whipped away which means it may no longer matter what your house is worth.  If it no longer matters what the value of your home is worth you may not even need an appraisal.  The government has estimated that 80% of all homeowners who refinance through this program will not need an appraisal.  This “no appraisal” requirement is set to be activated by most Mortgage Lenders by February or March of 2012.

In addition to the appraisal feature named above the government also announced that the interest rates would also get better for homeowner’s utilizing this program.  The old version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program typically had higher interest rates for those borrower’s who had less equity in their homes.  This new announcement states that most of the interest rate increases that currently exist will be whipped away.  This effectively allows homeowner’s to qualify for the same interest rate as those with lots of equity in their home.

There are many more benefits which were announced but these two enhancements to the HARP program are the most instrumental to those homeowner’s who have been thinking about refinancing but not sure if they could qualify because their home has lost value.  If you feel you could benefit by refinancing but are still unsure please call our toll free number at 800-555-2098.  We can help answer questions you might have and check to see if you may be eligible to qualify for this great program.

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