HARP 3.0 – How to Help Push the Bill Through Congress

HARP 3.0 – How to Help Push the Bill Through Congress

Like many companies in the real estate industry, we’re watching the progress of HARP 3.0.

Reintroduced to Congress in February 2013 by Senators Robert Mendez and Barbara Boxer, S. 249, The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act of 2013 (HARP) , will seek to help homeowners with conventional loans. Currently, only those people with Freddie and Fannie backed loans dated before May 31, 2009 can refinance their loans through HARP 2.0.

As of this writing, the Bill has been referred back to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

If it passes, HARP 3.0 will allow people who currently owe more on their home than what it’s worth (typically 85 – 150% LTV) to refinance their conventional loans. We’re also hoping Congress will eliminate the seemingly arbitrary May 31, 2009 loan origination cutoff date.

The House has also introduced an identical Bill, H.R. 736, which is also in committee.

What can you do while waiting for Congress to move on S. 249?

1. Contact the Bill’s sponsors and voice your support – Visit Congress.gov to see the progress of S. 249 and a listing of its sponsors (with links to each Senator’s webpage and contact information).

Many bills die in committee. To help ensure S. 249 moves out of committee, contact the Bill’s sponsors and the Senators that sit on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee. Your voice does count, so be sure to call and let these Senators know you’re tracking this important bill (when you call or email, be sure to state the Bill’s name and number).

2. Consider your options – If having an underwater house is truly a hardship (meaning, you can’t afford the payments or you’ve missed payments), you do have options:

  • Obtaining a loan modification (you must meet eligibility requirements)
  • Selling your house in a short sale
  • Bankruptcy
  • Renting out your home and moving to an apartment

Before you make any significant change, however, get advice from your CPA, a real estate attorney and/or a tax attorney. Don’t listen to well-meaning friends or believe what you read on the Internet. As we’ve posted on this blog in the past, myths abound concerning real estate. Rather than make a huge financial mistake based on erroneous information, get the facts from your Loan Officers.

3. Be patient – Having a mortgage that’s more than your home is worth can be frustrating. However, home prices are rising in many parts of the country. The latest S&P Case-Shiller home price index showed average home prices increased 8.6% and 9.3% for the 10- and 20-City Composites in the 12 months ending in February 2013.

While prices may not reach their pre-2006 levels for years, the market has stabilized, which means foreclosures have decreased and more people are out buying homes versus waiting out falling prices.

Be sure to check this blog often for HARP 3.0 updates – we’ll post them as soon as we hear about them.