"No" doesn't always mean "no" -- at least, not when you are trying to refinance your mortgage through HARP 2.0.
Just because one lender refuses to refinance your mortgage through the Home Affordable Refinance Program, you shouldn't assume you don't qualify for HARP, says Jim Sahnger, a mortgage planner for FBC Mortgage in Jupiter, Fla.
The rules under this refinance program are the same for all lenders, but lenders add their own internal rules and they may reject your application if your loan doesn’t meet their requirements.
If you want to save time and the frustration of waiting weeks to be told you don't qualify, ask questions before submitting your application.
The main question
The first question you should ask your lender: "Does your institution have any LTV restrictions on HARP?"
That, alone, will show the lender that you know your game and you're not to be messed with. But most importantly, it will save you the hassle of applying for a loan that you don't qualify for. Even though HARP 2.0 allows borrowers to refinance regardless of how deeply underwater they are, some lenders are not willing to refinance more than 125 percent of a home's value. Others have even lower caps. Once you know if your lender has a cap on the loan to value (LTV), you'll have a better idea of whether it's worth applying with this lender.
More questions to ask your lender before you apply:
Do you have any servicing restrictions? Are you willing to refinance my mortgage through HARP even if you are not the current servicer of my loan?
Many lenders only approve HARP applications for loans they already service.
What's your minimum FICO score requirement for HARP?
Some lenders want credit scores of 720 or higher on HARP refinances. Others allow lower scores.
If you are refinancing a second home or an investment property, ask if the lender has any restrictions on occupancy. Some lenders do not approve HARP applications unless it's your primary residence.
If you are refinancing a condo or a townhome, ask your lender about any property restrictions, as some lenders prefer to stay away from those types of properties.
Most lenders should be able to answer these questions before taking your application.
Even after you do your homework, your HARP application may be rejected for a number of reasons.
Don't give up easily. Keep shopping around until you find a lender willing to refinance your mortgage, Sahnger says.
"Just because that lender can't do it, it doesn't mean it can't be done."
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