Industry NewsMortgage

HARP refinancings take off

Share of loans going to underwater borrowers also picking up

As mortgage rates continued to hit new depths, the number of refinancings completed through the Obama administration's mortgage refinance program more than doubled year over year in May, according to a monthly report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Last fall, the FHFA, which regulates government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced several changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in an effort to boost participation. The changes included lifting the previous 125 percent loan-to-value (LTV) cap on HARP refinancings, and releasing lenders who sign off on a refinanced loan from some legal liabilities associated with the original loan. The new HARP guidelines also eliminated some risk-based fees if homeowners refinanced into shorter-term mortgages that would get them out from negative equity situations more quickly. HARP refinancings rose to 67,456 in May from 25,475 in May 2011. More than two-thirds of those refinancings were to borrowers wi...

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