The Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, is designed to help homeowners who are current on their house payments and who want to save money by refinancing at lower mortgage interest rates. Normally, refinancing is a straightforward task. But not when the loan is underwater -- that is, when the home's value has fallen below the mortgage balance. That's where HARP comes in.
HARP allows homeowners to refinance their mortgages even when they're underwater. That's the intention, but the reality has been different. HARP is not mandatory, and borrowers often struggle to refinance their underwater loans. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they don't.
When HARP was introduced in early 2009, the Obama administration estimated that millions of homeowners would take advantage of it. The numbers have been lower than that. Recently, HARP's expiration date was extended until the end of 2013.
In this series of articles, Bankrate.com explains who is eligible for HARP refinances, what obstacles borrowers can expect to encounter and how to overcome those barriers.