The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will be trying to get the more than 20,000 New Jersey residents still eligible to sign up for the Home Affordable Refinance Program at their fifth outreach event to be held in Newark on March 4.
FHFA Director Mel Watt will join housing experts and community leaders at Essex County College in hopes to provide community leaders with the tools needed to encourage the thousands of New Jersey residents who are still eligible to apply for HARP.
"We are working with community leaders and other trusted sources to get the word out that more than 20,000 New Jersey homeowners could save, on average, more than $220 per month refinancing through HARP," Watt said. "HARP expires in December of 2015, so the time to take advantage of the program is now. We will also be providing information about other forms of assistance available to homeowners in distress."
The event will feature a panel discussion with representatives from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, New Jersey Citizen Action, and a representative with PHH Mortgage.
More than 652,000 homeowners nationwide are still eligible to for HARP, according to data from the FHFA. New Jersey alone has more than 20,000 of those eligible.
In order to be eligible for HARP, homeowners must meet the following criteria:
- Their loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
- Their mortgage must have been originated on or before May 31, 2009.
- Their current loan-to-value ratio must be greater than 80 percent.
- They must be current on their mortgage payments with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.
Typically, borrowers can expect to receive a HARP modification if they meet the above criteria, have a remaining balance of $50,000 or more, a remaining term of greater than 10 years, and an interest rate at least 1.5 percent higher than current market rates.
More than 3.2 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP as of November 2014. The program began in 2009 as part of the government's Making Home Affordable program.