HARP: Helping Underwater Homeowners Regain Equity

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
While rising home prices have enabled many homeowners to begin rebuilding their home equity, recent data indicates a significant number of homeowners remain underwater – that is, owing more on their mortgage than what their home is worth. Zillow’s 2013 second quarter Negative Equity Report appears, at first glance, to be quite promising, finding that the number of underwater homeowners nationwide decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter, with more than 3 million homeowners moving from negative to positive equity. What remains alarming, however, is that there are 12.2 million homeowners who are still underwater. Even more concerning is that more than half of the homeowners in negative equity are underwater by 20 percent or more, and nearly one in seven owe more than double what their home is worth. As Zillow astutely points out, at current home price appreciation rates, it may be four years or more before these borrowers are able to regain their equity – undoubtedly leaving many feeling frustrated and trapped. Additionally, RealtyTrac’s September U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report revealed that 10.7 million homeowners owe at least 25 percent more on their mortgages than their property’s valuation price. Such data, while further validating the prolonged effect of the housing crisis on far too many homeowners – particularly those in the hardest-hit markets – is also indicative of the need to inform homeowners of their options in order to help them receive the assistance required to obtain stability. If you are one of the millions of homeowners who are current on your mortgage payments, but underwater, we encourage you to call our HOPE Hotline to learn about the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) – a government program specifically designed to help qualified underwater borrowers refinance their loans in order to rebuild their home equity. Our counselors continue to walk many homeowners through the program’s nuances to help them determine if they are eligible. Not sure if you qualify, or wondering what a refinancing entails? Don’t wait any longer – call 888-995-HOPE (4673) today to learn more. See also our previous post on the importance of informing homeowners about HARP, as well as an earlier post on homeowners’ reservations about refinancing.