In an effort to sign more eligible homeowners up for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has scheduled its fourth HARP outreach event on December 5 in Miami.
FHFA Director Mel Watt will join community leaders and housing experts in a town hall-style meeting at Miami Dade College North Campus. The purpose of the meeting will be to provide community leaders with resources to educate and encourage the 21,000 homeowners in Miami who are eligible to refinance through HARP and could save as much as $200 per month.
"We will be working with community leaders and other trusted sources to get the word out that more than 97,000 homeowners in Florida are still eligible for and can save money by refinancing through HARP," Watt said. "We will also be providing information about the range of assistance available to homeowners in distress other than those who are eligible for HARP."
The event will include a panel discussion moderated by Maria Fernandez, Associate Director for the Office of Housing and Regulatory Policy at FHFA, and featuring representatives from various government agencies such as the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac as well as from local financial institutions.
Florida has the most HARP-eligible borrowers of any state with 97,000, according to new data from the FHFA. Miami has the most of any metro area in Florida with 21,000, followed by Tampa (17,000), Orlando (11,000), and Jacksonville (9,000). There are more than 722,000 borrowers nationwide who are eligible to refinance through HARP, according to the FHFA. For the first eight months of 2014, the percentage of all refinances in Florida that were facilitated through HARP, 32 percent, was way ahead of the national pace of 17 percent. Overall, the number of borrowers refinancing through HARP has been declining for the last several months.
Borrowers are eligible for a HARP loan if they meet the following requirements: Their loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac; the loan must have been originated on or before May 31, 2009; LTV ratio must be greater than 80 percent; and they borrower must be current on mortgage payments. They must not have had a late payment in the previous six months or more than one late payment in the previous 12 months. Borrowers who could benefit from HARP are referred to as "in the money" borrowers; they are "in the money" if they meet all the HARP eligibility requirements, have a remaining balance on their loan of greater than $50,000 with more than 10 years left on their term, and have an interest rate of more than 1.5 percent more than current market rates.
As of August 2014, about 3.2 million U.S. homeowners have refinanced through HARP since it was introduced by FHFA and Treasury in 2009 as part of the Making Home Affordable Program. FHFA previously hosted events similar to the upcoming Miami meeting in Chicago, Atlanta, and Detroit.