I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said that the past three years have been hard on people across the nation. The housing market crashed, unemployment rates have been high and the country has been in a constant state of regroup and rebuild. Things are starting to turn around though, albeit slowly, and opportunities are becoming available across the country. One such, and often unknown, opportunity is the HARP 2.0 Program.

What’s a HARP?

The Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP 2.0 Loan, is defined by Wikipedia as “a federal program set up in March 2009 to help underwater and near-underwater homeowners refinance their mortgages.” Unlike other programs that work to assist homeowners in jeopardy of losing their houses to foreclosures, the HARP 2.0 program was designed to help homeowners who are current on their monthly mortgage, but are unable to refinance due to the impact of the housing market collapse.

The goal of a HARP 2.0 Loan is to help homeowners refinance their mortgages and take advantage of low interest rates to save money. Although the economy is once again starting to show signs of life, I think we can all agree that any advantage when it comes to monthly finances is still a very welcome opportunity to many of us.

Who is Eligible?

According to HARP 2.0.ORG, the eligibility requirements are as follows:

• Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must own the mortgage and must have acquired it before June 1, 2009

• Homeowners who have refinanced previously under HARP are not eligible, unless it was refinanced by Fannie Mae between March and May of 2009

• Homeowners must be current with their monthly payments

• The loan-to-value ratio must be higher than 80%

Just the Facts

So now that you know if you are eligible, here are a few more tidbits that you need to know about the HARP 2.0 Loan. The deadline for applying for the loan is December 31, 2013. Also, the loan has a great feature which allows applicants to forgo a home appraisal if an automated valuation model is available in their area.

Benefits and Possibilities

While a HARP 2.0 Loan isn’t right for everyone, it does provide an excellent opportunity for homeowners who are on time with their monthly mortgages to lower interest rates and keep a little more money on-hand each month. According to HARP 2.0.ORG, it is estimated that “the average borrower will save over $2,000 in the first twelve months.”

Next Steps

Now that you know the facts about the HARP 2.0 program, it’s time to contact your local lender to see if they participate in the program. Don’t forget, you only have until December 31, 2013 to apply, so if you are eligible get moving because, as they say, this opportunity won’t last forever.

Rebecca Scott of Scott Project Solutions is a marketing consultant and blogger focused on all things social media. Follow her on Twitter.

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