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Looking for Refi Options

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Posted On: 06/05/2013

Question:

I now have a conventional loan at 7 percent interest. The loan is not owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, so I refinance with HARP. Also, the property is underwater. My wife and I have been told we do not qualify for any refinancing. What would you recommend?

Answer:

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A “conventional” loan is a mortgage that meets the standards necessary to be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Perhaps your loan has not been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and is owned by an investor or is in portfolio by the original lender.

Given this background, the first step is to get the loan number and see if the debt is or is not actually owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Go to: http://1.usa.gov/H5IX74

Besides HARP, you can also try to qualify for HAMP, the Home Affordable Modification Program.

What steps should you take?

First, call the federal government’s homeowner assistance service at 888-995-4673 and get specific advice. There is no charge for this counseling service and it runs 24 hours a day, every day.

Second, call your state attorney general. Last year, the states had a $25 billion settlement with a number of major loan servicers. You may be eligible for assistance, or it may be possible that the state has a program to help borrowers in your situation.

Third, in some areas, homes once underwater now have positive equity.

Home values in most markets have risen during the past year. The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sale prices in March were 11.8 percent higher than in 2012.

“A strong rise in home values is contributing to housing wealth recovery, which has risen by $1.4 trillion in the past year and looks to top that increase this year,” said NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, in February.

With any luck, perhaps some of that additional housing wealth can help in your situation.

Peter G. Miller is the author of The Common-Sense Mortgage and a veteran real estate columnist. Have a question? Please write to peter@ctwfeatures.com.

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