CoreLogic has estimated that 1.8 million underwater homeowners own homes that are a mere 5% less than what they owe on their mortgage. And while home prices are rising, giving many US homes back some of their equity, there are still options for those struggle to get out of being underwater. Refinancing with today’s low interest rates (3.7% for 30 years) may not be a viable option, but two programs offered by lenders may help. Under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), it’s possible to refinance to a lower rate and payment, or a shorter term. Depending on your lender, you may not have to worry about an upper limit for the loan-to-value ratio. Be sure to check with your lender to see if you qualify. Fannie Mae borrowers can visit knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup, or visit freddiemac.com/mymortgage if Freddie Mac is your lender.
FHA mortgage borrowers have the option of reducing their monthly payment (must be by at least 5%) or switching to a fixed rate. To qualify, you must have had your loan for at least 210 days and made at least six payments.