Avoid Foreclosure: Refinances Under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)

HARP, a government refinancing program, expired at the end of 2018.

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 MHAincluding the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)expired at the end of 2016, HARP lasted through 2018.

What Was HARP?

HARP was the mortgage refinance option under the MHA initiative. With HARP, borrowers typically were able to:

  • get a lower interest rate on a mortgage loan
  • get a shorter loan term, and/or
  • change from an adjustable to fixed-rate mortgage.

HARP’s History: Helping Certain Homeowners Refinance

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.

HARP Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a HARP refinance, you, your loan, and your property had to meet the following criteria:

  • You must be current on your mortgage, with no 30-day (or longer) late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.
  • The home must be your primary residence, a one-unit second home, or a one- to four-unit investment property.
  • Your loan must have originated on or before May 31, 2009.
  • Your current LTV ratio must be greater than 80%. (Find out your LTV ratio here.)
  • Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must own your loan.

What Are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

The Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac, are government-sponsored enterprises that own or back many mortgages in the United States. Even if you took out your mortgage loan from a bank, credit union, or mortgage company, it might be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

To find out if either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your loan, use the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac online loan lookup tools. (Learn more about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in Who—or What—Is Fannie Mae? and Who—or What—Is Freddie Mac?)

HARP Expired at the End of 2018

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.

Getting Help

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.

Talk to a Lawyer

Start here to find foreclosure lawyers near you.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Talk to a Foreclosure attorney.

We've helped 75 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you