‘I didn’t think I’d qualify…and I didn’t want to hear the word ‘no.’ But I finally did call—and I’m so glad I did.’
Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay Area was hard-hit by California’s economic and housing downturn. Home values dipped (although the cost of living remains relatively high) and many businesses closed or reduced work hours.
Clementine, an empty nester who’s owned her home in Contra Costa County for 11 years, relied on a part-time job to pay her mortgage and other bills. She started to struggle after being forced to take unpaid leave over the 2012 holidays, costing her over $3,000 in lost wages.
“I was really under pressure with my bills and had to take action,” she recalls.
Luckily, Clementine had a letter from her mortgage company about the Home Affordable Refinance Program, the federal government’s program to help homeowners who are underwater, meaning they owe more than their home is worth, or have little equity in their home to refinance. The offer letter she had received was time-sensitive so she needed to respond quickly.
Still, Clementine was reluctant to make the call. “I was earning less each year, so I didn’t think I’d qualify. And I didn’t want to hear the word ‘no.’ But I finally did call,” she says, “and I’m so glad I did.”
The mortgage company paired Clementine with a single employee who answered her questions about HARP and provided excellent customer service. In less than two months, Clementine’s mortgage at 6.5% was refinanced to a rate of 4.125%—a monthly savings of $596.
Her advice? “If you’re at all interested in HARP, make the call to find out if you qualify.” The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll start saving.