The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was part of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) initiative that the federal government began in 2009. While most of the programs under MHA—including the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)—expired at the end of 2016, HARP lasted through 2018.
HARP was the mortgage refinance option under the MHA initiative. With HARP, borrowers typically were able to:
During the financial crisis, the government came up with HARP to help "underwater" homeowners—those homeowners who were unable get traditional refinancing because the value of their home had declined. While HARP was supposed to significantly decrease mortgage default rates and stabilize home prices, after two years it was clear that the program was falling far short of expectations. Of the four million to five million homeowners that the program was intended to help, only 900,000 borrowers successfully refinanced through the program.
So, the federal government announced changes to HARP in November 2011, which included loosening the program’s eligibility criteria, waiving property appraisal requirements, eliminating certain fees, and removing a loan-to-value (LTV) ceiling. Thanks to those changes to the program, many more homeowners were eligible for HARP.
To be eligible for a HARP refinance, you, your loan, and your property had to meet the following criteria:
HARP ended on December 31, 2018. Though, it's expected that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will implement a new refinance program for borrowers with high LTV ratios to replace HARP.
If you need information about different ways to make your mortgage payments more affordable, like with a loan modification, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney or a HUD-approved housing counselor.