HARP’s extended deadline gives you more chances

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If you owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth, you haven’t missed the chance to refinance through the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). In April 2014, the program was extended until the end of 2015.

Although the deadline was moved back, you shouldn’t wait to apply: If you’re rejected, the extended deadline gives you opportunities to try again. Also, if you were told that your current loan wasn’t eligible for HARP, it’s possible that a simple error could have kept you from participating and getting a lower loan rate, according to loan officers and government sources.

For example, the property address must match the address of the loan when it was sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. A typographical error or even a difference such as “Street” versus “St” can lead to a denial. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac updated their automated loan-underwriting process in 2013–2014 to allow for minor address discrepancies, says Keane K. Ng of Cobalt Mortgage. He estimates that in 2011–2012, 1 in 4 HARP loans that he handled were derailed by data-entry errors. That ratio has improved, he says.