HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, is a federal program established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in early 2009 to help struggling homeowners deal with the refinancing of their mortgages. As opposed to HAMP, the Home Affordable Modification Program, which has the main goal of helping homeowners at risk of foreclosure, HARP is geared toward homeowners who are up to date on their mortgage payments but have been unable to refinance because of the rapidly dropping home prices that occurred after the U.S. housing market correction.

HARP refinancing was developed to address the needs of homeowners that have found themselves in a difficult situation after what is known as the “housing bubble” “burst” in the year 2006. This caused the prices of homes to drop to very low levels, even going below the existing balance of mortgages held by the homeowners. In this situation a homeowner may wish to refinance the home, but will be required to pay higher interest rates because banks often require a loan-to-value ratio that is 80% or lower in order to refinance without having to use private mortgage insurance.

Some specific criteria must be met in order for a homeowner to qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program. This criteria includes:

- The ownership or guarantee of the mortgage must be held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. This may be confusing to some homeowners because they are not aware that their home loan is actually linked to either of these financial organizations because neither interacts directly with the public. 

- The mortgage must have an acquisition date of no later than May 31, 2009. 

- The homeowner must not have any other HARP refinancing on the mortgage, with the exception of refinancing done by Fannie Mae under the HARP program during the months of March through May 2009. 

- The homeowner must be up-to-date on all mortgage payments, with no late payments within the preceding six months, and no more than one late payment in the preceding twelve months. 

- The property has a current loan-to-value ratio of more than 80%. 

- The homeowner must be able to benefit from the loan either due to lowered monthly payments or through movement to a more stable loan product. For example, the homeowner may benefit from moving to a fixed-rate mortgage from an adjustable rate mortgage.

The HARP program is scheduled to be ended on December 31 of 2013.