Even though more than 20 percent of the nation's mortgages are underwater, with the borrower owing more than the value of the home is worth, more than seven in 10 respondents in a recent FreeScore.com survey said they were not aware of government mortgage modification programs designed to help such borrowers. CoreLogic studies have found that 22.1 percent of homeowners owe more than their property is worth.
As a result of this continuing problem, the government designed a pair of programs, the Home Affordability Modification Program (HAMP) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), to aid these borrowers. Yet 62.2 percent of the 300 FreeScore.com survey respondents said they were unaware of the programs. More troubling, 72 percent of survey respondents said they have not heard of either the HAMP or HARP programs.
From the survey:
Q. Are you aware of any new government programs to make home buying more affordable?
Yes: 37.77 %
No: 62.23 %
Q. Have you heard of either, or both, of these government home lending programs a) Home Affordability Modification Program (HAMP) or b) Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)?
Heard of HAMP: 5.26 %
Heard of HARP: 8.98 %
Heard of both HAMP and HARP: 13.31 %
Not heard of either program: 72.76 %
Both HAMP and HARP are designed to give troubled borrowers new ways to take advantage of lower interest rates. Prior to these plans, underwater homeowners, whose mortgages were worth more than their homes, had little recourse but to either pay the higher mortgage rate on the devalued property or ultimately foreclose. The programs help underwater homeowners avoid foreclosure by allowing borrowers to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage, refinance at lower rates, and adjust monthly mortgage payments downward, in line with current market valuations.
Borrowers using HAMP and HARP should note that these modified loans will reflect on one’s credit report that the borrower is “current (on payments), but on the modified amount.” It is important that homeowners and borrowers continuously monitor and understand their credit information and scores from each of the three national credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
The survey data were collected from Survey Sampling International, using an opt-in panel of 300 respondents.