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HARP for pre 2009 September mortgages with current LTV > 80

So how can you gauge your chances of refinancing your mortgage through the HARP 2.0 program?

First, you need to meet some basic requirements: Your mortgage must have been owned or guaranteed by Fannie or Freddie, and it must have been sold to either one before May 31, 2009. You must also have less than 20 percent equity in your home (that is, a loan-to-value ratio above 80 percent). And you cannot have had any late payments in the last six months, and no more than one late payment in the last year. HARP is also generally a one-shot deal: this has to be your first HARP refinancing.

Wells Fargo is working with both new and old customers -- though it isn't accepting new customers with mortgage insurance since it can be difficult to transfer the insurance to the new loan. (Experts said there had been problems reported with some mortgage insurers refusing to reassign its insurance to the new HARP loan.) And if Wells buys a loan from a smaller bank or broker, it must have a loan-to-value ratio of 105 percent or less, meaning the borrower cannot be more than 5 percent underwater. Those limits do not apply to Wells's own customers.

All the nuances that exist from lender to lender make it hard to figure out the best course to take. Rick Cason, a branch manager at Integrity Mortgage, a mortgage firm in Orlando, Fla., said he had been working with about 30 customers since March, and many of them were being denied by Fannie's and Freddie's automated underwriting systems, even though they meet the program's new guidelines on paper. In some cases, he said he has found that reducing credit card debt has helped, even though the customers were within the allowed debt-to-income ratio limits.


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