Make Harp 3.0 Happen

Advocating for The Expansion of the Home Affordable Refinance Program

Month – January 2014

The State Of The Union Address and HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock Petition

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HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock:

Failure of The Obama Administration, Congress, The FHFA, and Other Policy Makers To Implement HARP 3.0 Has Now Reached 2034 days 4 hours 48 minutes 36 seconds

Please click here to sign the HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock Petition

The President forgot about us. The 2014 State of Union Address contained no mentions of underwater homeowners. Nothing about HARP or HARP 3.0 or #myrefi or a grand refinance plan for responsible homeowners. We have been abandoned. It is time to send a message. I want to put a HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock in the White House to remind policy makers how long they have failed us.

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HARP 3.0 was essentially born when President Obama laid out his plan for a broad based refinancing plan to help responsible home owners with little or negative home equity during the 2012 State of The Union Address. It is now two years later and nothing has been accomplished. I’m taking a suggestion from one of my readers and highlighting this failure of our policy makers by placing a HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock on the website. The clock is being set at January 24, 2012, the night of the 2012 State of The Union Address and the birth of the HARP 3.0 movement. The HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock is a symbol of how long the President, Congress, The FHFA, and even the media have failed us. I’ve also created a new petition requesting the administration install a HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock in the White House to remind our policy makers how badly they have failed the millions of Americans that are still underwater on their mortgages. Please go to http://wh.gov/lNIIm and sign the petition. The White House is owned by the American people, and if we want to put a clock in there we should be able to. Hopefully the mere sight of the HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock embarrasses our government leaders into taking some real action.

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Help Underwater Homeowners. Install a CountUp Clock in the White House to remind policy makers of failure to pass HARP 3


During the 2012 State of The Union Address President Obama laid out his plan for a broad based refinancing plan to help all responsible home owners with little or negative home equity. This plan, known as HARP 3.0, is desperately needed by millions of underwater homeowners. It is now two years later and nothing has been accomplished with HARP 3.0. The President, Congress, The FHFA, and other policy makers have failed us. As a reminder of this failure we suggest a HARP 3.0 Count Up Clock be installed in the White House Entrance Hall. Perhaps the embarrassment of this Count Up Clock will urge policy makers to finally Make Harp 3 Happen.

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Treasury Adviser Wants HARP 3.0 for Non-GSEs, But Opposes Extending Cutoff Date

Michael Stegman of the U.S. Treasury, and a trusted housing adviser to the Obama Administration, delivered a speech at an industry conference this week in which he reiterated his support for expanding HARP for non-Fannie and non-Freddie loans.

“We must not forget about the inability of performing underwater borrowers whose loans are held in private label security trusts to access refinancing”

-Michael Stegman, U.S. Treasury Housing Adviser

Stegman has been a proponent of a HARP-like program for Non-GSEs since he joined the Treasury. He has pleaded with Congress to pass a solution and has spoken in support of the “Merkley Mortgage”. Last year he suggested the Treasury would consider a Plan B implementation without Congressional approval. In his speech this week he backed off of those remarks.

 
However, not all underwater homeowners should consider Michael Stegman an ally. Stegman stated he opposes changing the May 31, 2009 HARP eligibility cutoff date. In fact, he completely downplayed the importance of the date.

“Very few homeowners whose loans were originated after the cut-off date are underwater”, said Stegman.

I’m not sure where Mr. Stegman gets his data, but I beg to differ. If he read some of the comments left by people on makeharp3happen.com he might change his mind.
 

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This is what is so incredibly frustrating about HARP and HARP 3.0 proposals. Bureaucrats keep piecemealing solutions. It is time to stop cherry picking winners and losers. Underwater homeowners deserve a comprehensive home refinance solution that leaves no one behind.
 

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What Does HARP 3.0 Have To Do With Cookies?

This past week makeharp3happen.com turned one year old. It has been both an incredibly rewarding and an incredibly frustrating year. While the lack of progress with Harp 3.0 has been frustrating, the correspondence I’ve had with readers of the site has been an awesome experience. My New Year’s Resolution for 2014 is to focus on the positives in my life. So, I’ve been pondering lately how this site can help make a positive impact while also leading the charge to Make Harp 3 Happen. Then it hit me. If underwater homeowners could rally support for each other beyond just advocating for the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinance Program, then maybe we can help each other make a positive difference in our lives. We can’t count on the government to pull us up from underwater, but if we all act as little lifeguards maybe we can still do something to get us back to the surface a little faster. But what exactly can we do for each other? And what does this all have to do with cookies?

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Well, in the past few weeks while I’ve been thinking about this stuff I noticed one of my twitter followers who was often retweeting my posts. Her name is Andrea Greene and she is the founder of the Connecticut Cookie Company. I was intrigued so I sent her an email to ask about her situation. Here is her story. Andrea lost her corporate job a few years ago. That was a double whammy for her. Her home has also plummeted 50% of its original purchase value. She doesn’t qualify for HARP in its current form. Her loan modification requests have been denied as she is not considered a hardship case. Like millions of other Americans she is stuck waiting for HARP 3.0. After losing her job she decided it was time for a change. Baking cookies was of one of Andrea’s passions, so she founded the Connecticut Cookie Company. Unfortunately, Andrea and her husband are so far underwater she has not been able to completely commit to her cookie baking business. She also juggles consulting jobs to help pay the bills on her severely underwater home. I want to help change that. I want Andre to be so busy filling cookie orders that she no longer has to juggle other jobs and she can commit fully to growing the Connecticut Cookie Company into a successful business. So please, if you have the means go visit the Connecticut Cookie Company and buy some cookies. I’m going to do my part by buying some macaroons.

The housing crisis did not discriminate. People from all walks of life were affected. That includes many small business owners. If you are an underwater homeowner unable to use HARP and you also run small business I’d like to hear from you. Follow @makeharp3happen on twitter and then send me an email to marcus at makeharp3happen dot com. I might profile your business next.

HARP 3.0 News, Links, and Notes

  • Barry Ritholtz wrote an opinion piece on Bloomberg.com calling HARP The Best Housing Program You’ve Never Heard Of. I’m sure those of you reading this website would beg to to differ. We know all about HARP. We know its flaws and we know its potential. Sadly, Barry is correct. HARP has helped nearly 3 million homeowners to date. It is hard to find a housing initiative run by the government that helped so many people. Unfortunately, HARP has still fallen woefully short of what it could and should be. There are still more than 9.25 million homeowners considered significantly underwater, plus another 3 or 4 million that are slightly underwater. There are another 4 million or so homeowners with so little equity in their home that HARP would be the only viable refinance option if they could qualify. When the housing market bottomed out in 2012 there were 15 million homeowners significantly underwater. When you break it all down, HARP has helped less than 20% of the people that have needed it. You know what happens to a baseball player with a batting average less that .200? They get sent to the minor leagues to work on their game. It is time for HARP to get sent down to the minors to work on its swing so it can bat a little better.


  • The Government has rolled out a new website to raise awareness and provide information for HARP. The website is HARP.gov. So we have a new HARP website just rolled out and the State of Union Address coming up in two weeks. It seems very likely the Home Affordable Refinance Program is going to be one of President Obama’s main talking points that night. This is all good news, but we know talk is cheap. We don’t need a new government website for HARP. We need a new HARP program. We need HARP 3.0.

  • Look for a new feature that will be coming soon to makeharp3happen.com. I’ll be profiling underwater homeowners that need HARP 3.0, and are also small business owners. I’m urging everyone support each other by patronizing businesses of HARP 3.0 supporters.

  • Cries for HARP 3.0 – Volume II Veterans Edition

    Cries for HARP 3.0 is a regular feature that focuses on families struggling with bloated mortgage payments that could be alleviated if HARP 3.0 ever comes to fruition. This week we profile three stories from underwater homeowners that are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces

    Danielle’s Story:
    In 2005, I purchased our home for $245,000. I put 20% down but could only afford a 10-year interest only option mortgage at 5.75%. I am a disabled veteran and am a single mom of a daughter in college. It has been all uphill these last few years….

    In 18 months I will have to start paying principle and my payment will go up almost $400 per month. I have tried to refinance to a lower interest rate numerous times but the property value has gone down despite improvements. I have since left my workplace. I have been waiting on Harp 3.0 FOREVER! I do not have a Fannie/Freddie mortgage so my hands have been tied and could not participate in Harp 2.0.

    If the 30-year fixed is 6% by the time that congress votes on this, what is the point? I truly thought I would have been able to refinance by now… Without harp 3.0 at a decent rate this house is gone….I will be dropping the keys off at Bank of America.



    Dave’s Story:
    I’m a member of the US Air Force and bought a home in Shalimar, FL while stationed there in 2003. The property shot up in value significantly allowing me to take out a large HELOC that I used to invest in other real estate ventures. When the market crashed, I found myself upside down in nearly all my properties, but I faithfully made sure payments on all loans stayed current, and as such, I have a great credit score despite the negative equity.

    I now have a first and second mortgage on the property, and they are not standard government mortgages, and they are both variable rate mortgages. This home is therefore not eligible for a HARP refinance.

    While many mortgage negotiators encourage people to stop making payments on loans in order to negotiate from a “delinquent” status, I will never do that if I have the means to pay my bills. It’s not ethical. I have no late or missed payments on either loan, and I’ve always honored my debts. It’s a shame that banks will negotiate with delinquent payees, but they won’t negotiate with or appreciate those of us who have honorably paid our debts, despite the real estate crash.

    I’ve been able to take advantage of a HARP refinance on one of my other properties, and that property now cashflows nicely, allowing the bank to continue to get their payments on time without putting me in a financially dangerous situation.

    It would be nice to do the same thing on this property as well. My rent received does not come close to covering my mortgages, so if I find myself in a financial pinch in the future, I will have no choice but to foreclose. That wouldn’t do me, the bank, the economy, or my renters any good.

    If I could take advantage of today’s low rates and be able to refinance with HARP 3 (or some similar program), the rent would likely cover the mortgages, and my finances, the bank’s investment, and my renter’s home would all be secure.



    Gary’s Story:
    My wife and I bought our modest 3 bedroom home 8 years ago for top dollar just before the market crashed. We live in Fredericksburg, VA an area that was hard hit by the mortgage collapse. Through no fault of our own we find ourselves to be underwater to the tune of 75-100K ! We have always paid our bills on tine and have an excellent credit rating. We are not qualified to refi simply because we are not Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac owned.

    We don’t make much money because I have always worked in public service. I first served in the US Navy for 24 years and for the past 18 years I have taught public school. It has been over six years since I have received a pay raise. During that six years the cost of basic necessities such as gas for the car, food, heating our home etc.. have skyrocketed leaving my family with minimal disposable income.

    I have watched and waited while others less qualified and less responsible than I have been allowed to refinance simply because they are Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac owned! What a slap in the face!

    It is simply outrageous! We are financially responsible and I have faithfully served this country my entire adult life. To deny me the opportunity to refi simply because my mortgage is owned by WFMBS is immoral and just plain wrong.

    Further it is financially irresponsible of our government. By refinancing I estimate that I could save approximately 500 dollars a month. This money would be used to do much needed repairs to my home such as replacing the windows, repair the deck, and replace the carpeting. These items have been neglected due to my diminished disposable income that I mentioned earlier.

    In summary HARP 3 MUST be passed as soon as possible for people like us who did nothing wrong but are now severely underwater on their mortgages. Many of us feel betrayed by our government after serving the very country that government represents. Finally were we to increase our disposable income people like us could help jumpstart the economy by putting that money into home repairs or purchasing appliances taking vacations or whatever.

    DO THE RIGHT THING AND PASS HARP 3 NOW!!!


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