If you want to try to qualify for a home loan modification under the HAMP or HARP programs, you will need to find out whether Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your loan. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may own your loan even if you send your monthly mortgage payments to another company, like Citibank, Chase or Bank of America. These banks often function as servicing agents for Fannie & Freddie. Servicing agents use their existing infrastructure – computer networks and customer service agents – to collect and process payments.
The Fannie Mae lookup tool is here.
The Freddie Mac lookup tool is here.
The difference between HAMP and HARP is as follows: HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) is designed to assist borrowers who are in foreclosure – that is, your lender has started the foreclosure process.
HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) is designed to help borrowers who have fallen behind on their mortgages and need to refinance, but who are not yet in foreclosure. The original HARP program did not work very well and the government has revised it – some call this revision HARP 2.0.
Both the HAMP and the HARP program are described at a Department of Housing web site called MakingHomeAffordable.gov. When you visit that site you will see a link to contact a HUD approved housing counselor by phone. However, as consumer advocate Ilyce Glink points out, the housing counselors staffing the Homeowners HOPE hotline sometimes do not seem to know as much as they should about the HAMP and HARP programs.
My experience with HAMP and HARP has been that my clients frequently are asked to submit financial statements over and over and that the modification evaluation process can take one to two years. Just last month I met with a client who had been told “no” four or five times – I advised him to reapply again and on the fifth attempt, his proposal for refinance was accepted. So the message is “don’t give up.”