That pleasing harp like sound you hear is that of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) rebooting and retooling its rules to make it easier for homeowners to refinance, reports NASDAQ. These new rules are being called HARP 2.0 (I guess that's more appropriate than Return of the HARP).
HARP 2.0 will allow homeowners that couldn't previously refinance because they owed too much on their mortgage (called being "underwater") to go ahead and refinance at a lower interest rate.
So what are the HARP 2.0 requirements?
HARP 2.0 is for homeowners that are current on their mortgages, reports FindLaw's Phoenix Bankruptcy Law News. Being current means you can't have more than one late payment in the past year and zero late payments in the previous six months.
In addition, the loans must be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. To check if you own a mortgage with these two, you can go to the following sites:
To determine eligibility there are a number of HARP Eligibility Calculators available out there, including at Zillow.
If you are eligible you will be able to take advantage of a number of things, including the fact that you won't have to get an appraisal or have your loan underwritten. You will also be able to kick away a number of fees, particularly where you refinance into a shorter-term loan.
As for when you need to spring into action on this, the faster the better. But the HARP 2.0 requirements allow until Dec. 31, 2013 to get your act together.
It will be interesting to see whether HARP 2.0 in Boston will lead to a new real estate boom. If at any point of the process you become confused, be sure to consult with a local attorney.