COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--When June Snow first looked into refinancing her interest-only mortgage, she was told it would be impossible because the value for her three-bedroom, two-bath ranch style home was not in the necessary range. Then Snow contacted Residential Finance Corp. (RFC), a nationwide mortgage lender, which rolled out the new the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) 2.0 program last month, and within three weeks she closed on a new lower, fixed interest rate loan.
The recently released new guidelines for the government program designed to help credit-worthy homeowners who owe more than their home is worth opens the door to even more individuals. In fact, according to statistics from CoreLogic, 2.3 million homeowners might be eligible for the program.
Snow, of Lancaster, Calif., was one of those homeowners. She was in the sixth year of a 10-year interest-only loan. “When I first got it, it was not such a bad deal, and I thought I would only be in it for a couple of years, and then the market shifted,” she explained. “I tried for years to get out of it and could not because the house value was not there. I felt hopeless.”
At the beginning of the year, Snow got a call from RFC. After explaining her mortgage situation, the representative told her RFC would roll out a new program that would help her in March and to call then. She did. It only took three weeks from the time she called RFC and reached loan officer Vince Cooper to the close of her loan, a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage for $135,000. “I am pretty happy, and I sleep much better,” she said.
HARP 2.0 offers the following provisions for homeowners:
Expanded Credit – Borrowers with lower credit scores who are current on their mortgage payments and have been for 12 months may qualify.
Unlimited Loan to Value – Borrowers may now be able to refinance regardless of their loan to value. Under HARP 1.0 the maximum loan-to-value was 125 percent.
Eliminating appraisals – Borrowers may be able to forgo a home appraisal. This saves hundreds of dollars and means a faster loan process.
Faster underwriting – In some cases the underwriting process is much faster.
Reduced fees – Many fees have been eliminated or reduced to make the loan process less expensive for borrowers.
Mortgage Insurance – Many applicants who applied for refinancing under HARP 1.0 were turned down due to their loan have mortgage insurance. With HARP 2.0 this is no longer a barrier. RFC has the flexibility to refinance borrowers by modifying or transferring their existing mortgage insurance policy.
Income Sources Exceptions – There is now further flexibility when reviewing income for HARP 2.0 applications. Income sources must still be documented, but the amount of income is not as important of a factor to qualify for the loan.
Expanded Ownership – Previously, only owner-occupied residencies qualified. Now, refinances for second homes or investment properties are acceptable.
Extended deadline – The HARP program deadline is extended to Dec. 31, 2013.
These expanded qualification criteria translate into more homeowners now being eligible – even homeowners who did not qualify for HARP.
What do homeowners need to know to find out if they qualify? Residential Finance Corporation developed a short checklist of questions for homeowners:
1. Does Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guarantee the mortgage? Most Wells Fargo and GMAC mortgages are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Check here for more information.
2. Have the payments been on time for the past six months?
3. Have there been no more than one late payment in the past 12 months?
4. Was the loan originated prior to May 31, 2009?
5. Is the loan-to-value greater than 80 percent?
If the answer is yes to all of these questions, it is advisable to speak with a HARP 2.0 expert to determine qualification and could benefit from a lower mortgage interest rate.
“There is great potential for so many homeowners who have been diligent about making their payment but who are deeply underwater,” said Michael Isaacs, CEO and president of RFC. “Millions of homeowners who have tried unsuccessfully to refinance but who have been unable to – despite record low interest rates – are ready for this program.”
As a correspondent lender, RFC is uniquely position to offer fixed- and adjustable-rate products from dozens of investors. This is an advantage over other lenders who are limited in their product offerings.
Motivated homeowners and a streamline refinance process allow RFC to process and close these loans in 10 to 15 days, said Joseph Buxton, branch manager of an RFC Columbus location. “This is a welcomed change from homeowners. Other programs have taken as long as 30 to 60 days. The new HARP program is a breath of fresh air for so many homeowners, even those with credit challenges because some of the lenders with which we work do not have credit score criteria. We have the products, expertise and infrastructure to help homeowners save money monthly, lower their interest rates and reach their financial goals. Being able to lock in a rate and close in two weeks is almost unheard of in today’s industry.”
Some of RFC’s branches have already been successful with the original HARP program. Tyler Cartmel, branch manager of RFC’s Carmel, Ind. location, said during the last year, they originated 25 to 30 such loans during the last year. “We have used the program to its fullest. With the new requirements and more loan officers, we expect to originate even more HARP loans per month.”
About Residential Finance Corp.
Founded in 1997, Residential Finance Corporation (RFC) (www.residentialfinance.com), offers homeowners and homebuyers nationwide a wide range of home mortgage loan options, including special lower-rate government-insured FHA and VA loans, residential mortgage loans, jumbo mortgage loans, and reverse mortgages. RFC’s highly-trained staff delivers mortgage expertise and customer service excellence, winning the company many awards, including Columbus Business First Corporate Caring Award, Columbus Business Journal Best Place to Work, Florida Trends Best Company in Florida, American Business Award Sales Department of the Year, Inc Magazine INC5000 Fastest Growing Company, and American Society of Training and Development Excellence in Practice. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, RFC has branches throughout the country, and is seeking loan officers and branch managers to join their network of branches. For more information contact Jessica Manna at 614.255.4317 or www.myrfccareers.com. NMLS#1652. Equal Housing Lender. Equal Opportunity Employer.