Lenders are just now starting to take refinance applications under the newly revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program, known as HARP. Softened guidelines now allow homeowners to refinance without an appraisal or income verification. The caveat: this only applies to loans that are owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
Of course, this is somewhat new information and how it will play out remains to be seen. Throughout this depreciating market, a variety of factors have still made it difficult for homeowners to refinance and actually see substantial gains. The changes to HARP will likely push homeowners to 20 year mortgages – meaning that a lower interest rate may not reduce monthly payments, and would more than likely increase them. However, it will save on interest payments, and how much money you spend over the life of your mortgage.
Time will tell how the mortgage industry responds as most are still figuring this change out and how it will be implemented. It’s too early to tell if this will really help homeowners or just add to the frustration. Look for updates in the coming months!