April 4, 2009, marked the official start of the Making Home Affordable refinance program.
Expected to help 5 million homeowners, the Making Home Affordable program “looks the other way” with respect to falling home values, approving mortgage applications based on borrower payment history and benefit to the homeowner.
Not every homeowner is eligible for a Making Home Affordable refinance, however. There are 3 basic criteria that must be met.
First, your existing home loan must be backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Thankfully, both companies provide online lookup services. Start with the Fannie Mae site because Fannie has a greater market share and because Freddie Mac’s site requires your social security number.
Next, you must have a perfect mortgage payment history over the last 12 months. Even one payment made 30 days late disqualifies you from participating in the Making Home Affordable program. It is okay, however, if you were 20 days late on your payment and incurred late fees.
And lastly, the balance on your mortgage cannot exceed your home’s value by more than 5%. The math formula is (Mortgage Balance) / (Home Value). If the quotient is greater than 1.05 then your loan-to-value exceeds 105% and you are not eligible for Making Home Affordable.
Now, assuming you meet the criteria, there are some noteworthy details of the Making Home Affordable program:
- If you didn’t pay mortgage insurance prior to refinancing, you won’t have to pay it after refinancing — even if your loan-to-value exceeds 80%.
- All refinances require income verification — even if the original mortgage was a stated income loan.
- Second mortgages cannot be paid off using loan proceeds — they must be subordinated
There are other guidelines, too, and both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have dedicated portions of their website to the Making Home Affordable program. To the layperson, unfortunately, the information may be a bit technical.
Even the government’s fact sheet can be a little dense at times.
Therefore, if you have specific questions about the Making Home Affordable program and your own eligibility, first check to see if Fannie or Freddie is backing your loan. If they are, pick up the phone and call your loan officer to plan next steps.
The program ends June 10, 2010.