Wednesday, April 24, 2013


For the last year or so my husband and I have been receiving numerous letters from various sources about the Homeowners Relief Program (HARP). My curiosity was aroused so I called our mortgage lender to find out what those offers were all about. I was promptly told they would refinance our loan to reduce our interest rate. During a half hour conversation I was delighted to hear all the wonderful things my lender would do so I would get to pay them less money.
That’s not what actually happened.
After paying a non-refundable fee of $350.00, spending a lot of my time over the next several weeks filling out a mountain of paperwork, standing by my FAX machine for several hours feeding in my last two years tax filings, and suffering through two separate appraisals because the first one took flight into the void, and seeing the unaccountably unattractive pictures of my home taken by the second appraiser that made the hair on my head stand on end, our lender did not make good on what was initially told to me. There was a lot of talk about Fannie May and Freddie Mack, but our lender wasn’t really offering a HARP loan. No, they ultimately wanted my husband and me to fork over thousands of dollars towards our loan with them so the mortgage would be 80% of the current market value.
Maybe it was my anger at the waste of my time, energy, and the non-refundable fee that caused me to rummage through the letters that were still being mailed to us. I dialed the telephone number on the top letter to find out if we could get our interest rate reduced…really.
As it happened, we could, and did.
The person ( I called made it all happen with less fuss and time than I’d spent with our original lender. He used the formulas listed and used by the government that showed the value of our home several thousands of dollars over that horrid appraisal we’d gotten. Admittedly I was surprised at how the value of our home had plummeted, but that is the point of HARP. The homeowners who have always paid their mortgage payments on time and have good credit are able to get some relief from the conditions of the home market—not just those who didn’t pay on time.
The acronym: HARP. Where does the “A” come from? Shouldn’t it be HORP? Maybe, but there are some lenders that I’d like to harp about and others who might be playing some soothing music to a homeowner’s ears.

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