HARP to play on

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If you owe more than your home is worth but you want to refinance, your lifeline just got longer. I’m Kristin Arnold with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program lets underwater homeowner’s refi their mortgages. HARP had been scheduled to expire this spring. But it has been extended until the middle of 2012.

To qualify for a HARP refi, you have to have a good payment history in the last 12 months. Your own has to be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. That means it can’t be an F-H-A or V-A loan. And you can’t owe more than 125 percent of what the home is worth.

One of the appealing things about HARP is that you can refi even if you have mortgage insurance. At least, theoretically. In practice, P-M-I sometimes is a roadblock. So is a home equity loan or line of credit.

Even if you qualify for a HARP ref, it might not be for you. You have to pay closing costs on the new loan. So you need a good break on the interest rate to make a refi worthwhile.

To find out more on the HARP program, visit the mortgage tab at Bankrate.com. I’m Kristin Arnold.