By Sally Voth
Having a mortgage that is underwater doesn't necessarily mean refinancing isn't an option.
Part of refinancing a mortgage is getting the home appraised.
"That's where a lot of folks run into the biggest stumbling block," said Jeff Riggleman, a mortgage originator with United Bank. "There have been a lot of folks that have lost a lot of value because of the drop in real estate."
Homes sold in foreclosure and short sales are being factored into appraisals as comparable properties, which can drive a house's market value down, he said.
"I think we're starting to see where a lot of those properties have been absorbed back into the market," Riggleman said. "Hopefully, what we will start seeing now are regular sales back in the marketplace."
The Home Affordable Refinance Program can help some of those people who don't qualify for traditional mortgage refinancing due to a drop in market values.
Homeowners must meet various criteria to be eligible for HARP, according to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov, which is a program of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
These criteria include:
• Having a mortgage that has been owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mac since on or before May 31, 2009.
• A current loan-to-value ratio of more than 80 percent.
• Being current on the mortgage with a good payment history for the previous year.
HARP is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, according to the website.
Julie Reeves, a mortgage adviser for VBS Mortgage Affiliate of Farmers & Merchants Bank in Woodstock, has had clients take advantage of HARP.
"The HARP program is wonderful," she said. "I can do it for clients if they're eligible."
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org