The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will hold its fifth event to reach homeowners who could save on their monthly mortgage payments by refinancing through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) at Essex County College. FHFA Director Mel Watt will join housing experts and community leaders on Wednesday, March 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a town hall-style meeting in the Mary Burch Theater.
The event is designed to provide tools to community leaders to encourage the more than 20,000 New Jersey residents still eligible for HARP to take advantage of the program. HARP expires in December of 2015.
“We are working with community leaders and other trusted sources to get the word out that more than 20,000 New Jersey homeowners could save, on average, more than $220 per month refinancing through HARP,” said FHFA Director Watt. “The time to take advantage of the program is now. We will also be providing information about other forms of assistance available to homeowners in distress.”
Director Watt will kick off the event and Naa Awaa Tagoe, Senior Associate Director in the Division of Housing Mission and Goals at FHFA, will moderate a panel discussion including representatives from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, New Jersey Citizen Action, and a representative with PHH Mortgage.To be eligible for HARP, homeowners must meet the following criteria:
- Their loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
- Their mortgage must have been originated on or before May 31, 2009.
- Their current loan-to-value ratio must be greater than 80 percent.
- They must be current on their mortgage payments with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.
Borrowers typically will get a financial benefit from HARP if they meet those criteria and have a remaining mortgage balance of $50,000 or more, a remaining term of greater than 10 years, and an interest rate at least 1.5 percent higher than current market rates.
FHFA and the Treasury Department introduced HARP in early 2009 as part of the Making Home Affordable program. As of November 2014, more than 3.2 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP. HARP is one of the few refinance programs that allows borrowers with little or no equity to take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits.
FHFA launched a nationwide public awareness campaign and the website HARP.gov and HARP.gov/espanol to reach borrowers who are eligible to participate in HARP.