I still see a lot of chatter from hopeful people on social media and in the comment section of this blog about their need for HARP 3.0. I’m sorry to deliver this reality check, but it is just not going to happen. All progress on the initiative stalled last year. HARP 3.0 is a dead end. The Home Affordable Refinance Program in its current state is set to run out at the end of 2016. And that will be it. I’m sorry, but unfortunately we could not Make Harp 3.0 Happen. However, that doesn’t mean you should completely give in to your financial situation. Here are some tips I have for you instead of hopelessly waiting for a HARP lifeline from the government.
1) Build a cadre of real estate and finance professionals that you trust. Just because you feel trapped in a mortgage/housing situation now doesn’t necessarily mean you are or will be forever. There are always options… although those options often require hard painstaking decision making. You need people you can trust within the appropriate industries to help guide if/when you need to make such a decision. Find a good real estate agent, finance professional, tax professional, and real estate attorney that you can trust. There are good ones out there that aren’t slime balls trying to take advantage of you. You want to look for professionals that are in it with you for the long haul and not just trying to make a quick buck. If they are good to you now, can answer your questions honestly, and work with you to build good business relations they will get your money later. You shouldn’t abuse them or steal their time when you know you aren’t yet committed to taking any action, but you should feel comfortable to send a quick email or a phone call when you need some advice. Network with your friends and family to find professionals that they have had positive experiences with.
2) Pay close attention to current home value and property taxes. Many homes that are underwater are being assessed for market values are that are no longer accurate. If your home is over assessed you are paying too much. You have the right to appeal the property value assessment assigned by your local municipality. Many parts of the country are seeing appeal success rates of 75%. I personally shaved $1100 per year off my taxes by appealing. You can go the do it yourself route, or work with lawyer that specializes in property tax appeals. Most charge a percentage of the first year savings and you only pay if you win your appeal.
3) Don’t assume no means no from everyone forever. Keep checking in on those mortgage companies on refinance opportunities. Home values fluctuate. Lending standards shift periodically. Every 6 or 8 months submit a new refinance query. It never hurts to ask.