Homeowners who still owe more than their home is worth have extra time to tap a program that lets them refinance.
The federal Home Affordable Refinancing Program, HARP, has been extended until December 2018. The loan help had been set to expire at the end of September.
HARP allows homeowners with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage to refinance, no matter how underwater they are on their mortgage.
In metro Phoenix, about 5,000 homeowners are still eligible. More than 160,000 in the Valley have already tapped the program to lower their monthly payments with a lower interest rate.
Phoenix home values have rebounded quicker than other cities with big booms and busts. Fewer than 9 percent of Phoenix-area homeowners are still underwater. That compares to almost 50 percent in 2011.
In Las Vegas, 20 percent of homeowners still owe more than their house is worth.
“We don’t see many people that are HARP eligible these days,” said Kelly Zitlow, vice president of the Scottsdale office of Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. “With our market appreciating on average 6 percent per year over the last several years, we have seen many Phoenix-area homeowners regain equity in their properties.”
In early 2009 during a speech in Mesa, President Barack Obama announced HARP, along with the rest of his housing plan to help homeowners hit by the crash.