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Program Helps Homeowners Lower Mortgage Payments

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(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Money Saver Suzanne McCarroll

DENVER (CBS4)- If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan and have had no luck refinancing because you owe more than your home is worth, HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program may be able to help.

Half of all home loans are Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Those homeowners aren’t helped by a recent ruling holding five major banks accountable for questionable mortgage practices.

HARP is a relatively new option which homeowner Chris Nickoloff has put to work lowering his monthly house payments. He was current on his loan but still was being turned down for refinancing.

Banker Patt Drawe of W.J. Bradley Bank used HARP to help.

“There are no income qualifications so even if you’re not employed or you lost your job you can still get refinanced at today’s rates and save money,” said Drawe.

Chris, who is employed, still welcomed the chance to go from a 6.75 rate to a 3.6 rate which will save him hundreds of dollars in interest each month.

The HARP program will also help homeowners who are underwater, meaning they owe more than their house is worth. It could keep many out of foreclosure.

Nickoloff, who has always been current with his payments, is thrilled when 4 On Your Side Money Saver Suzanne McCarroll talks to him.

When asked, “Can you believe you’re saving money every month and paying off your house faster?” Chris replied, “ No.”

You may be eligible for HARP if you meet all of the following criteria:

• The mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.

• The mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009.

• The mortgage cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March-May, 2009.

• The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80 percent.

• The borrower must be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with a good payment history in the past 12 months.

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