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How the federal HARP program saves Florida families' homes

During the recent foreclosure crisis, the federal government searched for ways to help people dealing with the possible loss of their home. One of the solutions the government came up with was the Home Affordable Modification Program, commonly known as HARP.

Introduced in 2009 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, HARP can help homeowners get a handle on their mortgage payments. The program might arrange for a lower interest rate, a shorter loan term, or a refinancing from an adjustable-rate mortgage to one with a fixed interest rate.

The FHFA eased the qualification standards for HARP, so people who were once turned down may now qualify. For example, at one time homeowners who were more than 125 percent underwater on their mortgage (meaning that the size of their mortgage was more than 125 percent of the current value of the house) did not qualify. Today, there is no such limit. Also, homeowners no longer will need to get their homes appraised or have their loans underwritten, speeding up and easing the process.

HARP is just one of several government programs available for people in foreclosure, or at risk of being foreclosed upon. Other programs help people in specific financial situations. Without the necessary experience, it can quickly get confusing trying to find the best program for you.

That is where an attorney with experience helping people in foreclosure comes in. A lawyer can steer to the appropriate program, which can result in you keeping your home, if that is your goal.

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