HARP refinance – working for thousands in MN

Few things the government does can be called a real success story, but the HARP Refinance program is one of them.

If you’re not familiar with the Home Affordable Refinance Program, also known as HARP, it’ is a program for good homeowners, that through no fault of their own, lost value on their home and therefore typically could not refinance. 

Generally speaking, it serves two situations.  First is that your current loan was done NOT needing mortgage insurance. Having lost value, now for example you owe 95% of the (lost) value, and could only get a new loan by adding expensive mortgage insuance to the new loan.

The second is that you bought the house, you put at least 5% down payment. So today, if you now owe more than the home is worth, you normally would NOT be able to refinance at all.

HARP, which started back in 2009, fixes both of those situations. If your existing loan does NOT have mortgage insurance, regardless of the current loan-to-value, your new loan would NOT need mortgage insurance. If your house is underwater… regardless of how far underwater, you can also refinance.


Who is eligible for HARP? You may be eligible if:

  1. The mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.Who you make payments to can be different than the underlaying owner of the loan.
  2. The mortgage must have closed on or before May 31, 2009.
  3. 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.
  4. The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80%.
  5. The borrower must be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with no late payment in the past six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

 Do I qualify for a Home Affordable Refinance – HARP?

While there are requirements you have to meet to qualify, many have misconceptions about HARP that are misguided or completely false. Don’t assume you can’t qualify, or that you will be denied. Contact an experienced local mortgage broker for a quick no obligation review.


  • Lower your monthly payments
  • Closing costs are the same as any other mortgage loan
  • Closing costs can be rolled into the loan
  • Refinance into a shorter loan term (20-yr, 15-yr, etc)


If you have a conventional loan, most likely it is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. But if you have a different loan. Maybe an FHA Loan, and VA Loan, or even a USDA rural housing loan – you can still refinance if your home has loat value.  Those loans all have seperate programs, known as a streamline refinance. These programs offer reduced documentation, but the biggest benefit is there may be no appraisal required, allowing lost value or underwater homes to easily be refinance to today’s interest rates.

In MN or WI, visit www.HARP-Refinance-MN.com for more information and assistance on the HARP 2.0 government refinance program.


FED taper has begun – Now what for mortgage rates?

So the Fed taper has officially been announced, and will start next month.  Now what for  mortgage rates?

Fed Chairman BernankeThe answer is, it depends.

How fast will the Federal Reserve winds down the rest of its bond-buying program.

Do they stay on track for what was announced? Will the economy continue slowing getting better?  How will the new Fed Chairwomen handle the office?  These, and many other items all play into the question.

On Dec 18th, the Fed announced that it would taper (slow) its mortgage bond buying by $10 billion per month, split evenly between its purchase of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.  Soon to be out the door Chairman Bernanke said in a press conference that the Fed would most likely continue to slow down the bond purchases at a rate of $10 billion at a time, over the next several meetings of its rule-making committee.  He also said that decision was more of a flexible guideline than a hard-and-fast policy, and that the process will be deliberate and data-dependent. He further added that  if the economy slows, we could skip a meeting or two. On the other hand, if things really pick up we could go faster.

The guaranteed outcome is that mortgage interest rates WILL RISE as the Fed winds back its bond purchases. As for how fast and how far rates rise, that depends on how steady, and how fast or slow the tapering is over the next year.

Myths about HARP 2 refinance explained

HARP 2 refinance in MN or WIA Freddie Mac senior vice president is using the company’s blog to debunk a few myths she says may be keeping homeowners from refinancing with a HARP 2 refinance (the Home Affordable Refinance Program).

Tracy Mooney’s information about on nine HARP misconceptions might not only be helpful for homeowners themselves but a good resource for lenders to share with customers and the public.



Big TV Mortgage Companies – Deal or no deal?

You and I are constantly bombarded with some big national mortgage companies advertising.  Because they are familiar to you from a TV or radio ad, does this automatically make them the best place to get a mortgage loan? The answer is no. 100% absolutely no…

Minnesota Mortgage ratesYou need to understand that all lenders underwrite to the same program (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, etc.) , get their money from the same sources, and have to pay the same third party fees (appraisal, credit report, etc).

The real difference from any lender on any given day might be about .125% for the same program when comparing the same closing cost quote.

Mortgage Advertising Bait-n-Switch

Most of their so called “deals” simply employ creative low ball quoting that the average homeowner doesn’t understand. To make it worse, these types of companies typically employ low level, low education application clerks. Is that who you want handling your largest financial transaction? An application clerk?

Another item to understand… if all lenders get their money from the same bond market on the same day at the same time. If all lenders have essentially the same costs to close your loan. How does the company advertising on TV and radio all day, everyday, in all markets across the country pay for that huge expense? Well silly… They charge it to you!

We have a saying in our office. They more they advertise, the faster you should run away.

Your best bet has always been, and continues to be to go visit your local licensed Loan Officer at your LOCAL mortgage broker.

HARP 3.0 refinance coming soon?

HARP refinance in MN and WIA new evolution of the HARP refinance program MAY soon be upon us.

HARP 3.0 looks like it’s going to gain headway and make it’s way to the streets since Mel Watt is the new kingpin of FHFA.

HARP loans in MN (Home Affordable Refinance Program) have been one of the few programs to really assist homeowners since the real estate market collapse.  The program allows homeowners who has a loan owned by Fannie Mae of Freddie Mac to refinance to today’s lower rates, even if they’ve lost value on the home, or are actually underwater on their loan.

Since the start of HARP back in 2009, those without  a Fannie Mae of Freddie Mac loan have been out of luck, but that MAY be changing soon.

Under the current HARP refinance rules:

You may be eligible for a current HARP 2.0 refinance if:

  1. The mortgage must now be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
  2. The mortgage must have closed with your lender on or before May 31, 2009.
  3. Check for ownership with:  Fannie Mae or  Freddie Mac
  4. The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80%.
  5. The borrower must be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with no late payment in the past six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

Stay tuned… We’ll pass the word if and when HARP 3.0 becomes reality.

HUD lowers FHA Loan Limits for 2014

New FHA Loan Limits

Looking to get an FHA Loan in 2014 and beyond? FHA Loans, FHA Lenders, FHA Loan Limits, Lookup tool, Minneapolis, St paul, MN, WIHUD ( Department of Housing and Urban Affairs) announced last week it will be lowering the maximum loan amount for FHA loans (Federal Housing Administration). The new limits will take effect Jan. 1.

Each county across the county has a maximum loan amount, which is tied to the areas average income.  The standard FHA loan limits for areas with relatively low housing costs will stay at its current level, $271,050. However, the limit for areas with the highest housing costs will be reduced by more than $100,000, from $729,000 to $625,500.

To learn what is available in your area

Use this FHA Loan Amount Lookup Tool.  Be sure to click the CY2014 for the new limit

The current limits have been in place for the past six years, and were originally set to lower in 2009, but were left alone because of the real estate crash.

Loan limits for FHA-insured reverse mortgages will remain the same at a maximum amount of $625,500, with actual loan limits based on the value of the property, current interest rates and the borrower’s age.

While not for just first time home buyers, they are wildly popular with first time buyers because they only require a down payment of 3.5%. That down payment can be their own money, a gift from a family member (like Mom and Dad), or from a down payment assistance program.

FHA loans also allow for a little weaker credit profile, and you can even use one to buy a house needing repair, and get the money to fit it up all in one loan. That is known as the FHA 203(k) rehab loan.

FHA loans are not perfect. They also come with some of the most expensive mortgage insurance of all mortgage loans.

MN down payment assistance programs

Down Payment Assistance programs for first time home buyers in Minnesota.

Apply for Down Payment Assistance in Minneapolis, St Paul, MNWe have several programs in Minnesota with varying levels of down payment assistance. Up to $10,000 is available in assistance for those who qualify.  Most people get much less, usually between $3,000 to $5,000. All programs have different qualifications and quidelines. Please visit our special down payment assistance website to get more information from a licensed Minnesota Loan Officer and down payment assistance specialist.

First Time Home buyers can take advantage of down payment assistance and grants available in Minnesota.  First time home buyers typically qualify if they have not owned a property in the last 3 years. If you have owned a property in the last 3 years, you can still qualify for some down payment assistance programs.

Here are some down payment assistance examples:

  • Below market interest rate with up to 5% (or $5000) down payment assistance loan.
  • Below market interest rate with up to 3% (or $3000) down payment assistance. No payments. Pay back when you sell.
  • 100% financing in qualified rural areas of MN and WI
  • 100% financing for active or military veterans
  • Up to $10,000 in assistance – part of which may be forgiven after a few years.
  • Mortgage Credit Certificates – Used to reduce your tax liability up to $2,000 a year

While having your own money is always best when buying a home, if you have some, but need a little assistance, these first time home buyer programs are just the right tool to make your real estate dream come true.


New home construction WAY UP

Any one with half an eye open knows these monthly housing reports bounce like a yo-yo.  This month up, last month down, so the long term average is where to focus. New home sales are up 21% over the past 12 months ending October 2013.  That is a good sign!

After a drop in Sept. 2013, sales of new single-family homes in October 2013 saw their biggest month-over-month increase since May of 1980, according to data released today by HUD and the Census Bureau.

New single-family home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000 in October, according to a report by the Census Bureau and HUD. That’s 25.4% above the revised September rate of 354,000 and 21.6% above October 2012’s rate of 365,000.

The October rate is also considerably higher than the 425,000 projected by economists. However, new home construction is still less than half what it was at its pre market crash – which arguably was artificially high, and not a valid comparison to today’s market

Prices on new homes also fell slightly, but this is attributed to smaller average home sizes compared to just a few years ago.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale in October was 183,000, according to the Census Bureau. At the current sales rate, that equates to a supply of 4.9 months. The median sales price of new houses in October was $245,800. The average sales price was $321,000.

Selling your home in the winter – Myth or Fact?

tree_snowI hear it all the time.  Homes don’t sell in the winter.  Sounds legitimate, but the facts simply do not bear this statement out to be truthful.

Are there less homes on the market in the winter?  Yes.  Statistics show about a 30% drop in active home buyers versus the peek summer months.

Big deal…

Realize this… There are fewer homes on the market for sale, so when the more serious buyer comes out in the wintertime to buy a home,  YOUR HOME gets more showings because you have LESS COMPETITION!

Good homes priced right sell quickly all year round.

Interest rate forecast for 2014

Everyday, I am asked “what are mortgage rates going to do?”

Minnesota mortgage ratesNo one has a crystal ball, but here are a few reasons we should expect mortgage interest rates to be higher in 2014.

1) New mortgage rules starting in 2014 are going to make getting mortgages harder, take longer, and cost you more money to obtain.  Lower debt to income rations, new forms, qualified mortgages, the CFPB, and more are all expected to take a significant toll.  Remember, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and all the others said their brilliant financial reforms would save you money…  All I’ve seen is high costs!

2) Economists at Freddie Mac have indicated they expect interest rates to be in the 5’s throughout 2014 because the economy is getting better (albeit slowly), and the Federal Reserve is expected to stop artificially propping up the mortgage market, with their buying of mortgage backed securities

3)  Affordability indexes are falling.

The good news is, there’s still time to take advantage of low refinance rates and new home purchase programs now if you’re a consumer.