Nearly 99,000 homeowners refinanced their mortgages in August through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), according to a new report released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Tuesday.
The federal government’s HARP initiative, which is applicable for borrowers with loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, has put 618,217 homeowners into new mortgages with lower interest rates since the beginning of this year, when a broader group of borrowers were made eligible for the program.
According to FHFA, HARP is on target to reach a million borrowers in 2012. The agency attributes the continued
high volume of HARP refinances to record-low mortgage rates and program enhancements that included the elimination of its maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio limit.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans refinanced through HARP accounted for nearly one-quarter of all refinances in August, 24 percent to be exact. In states hard-hit by the housing downturn–-Nevada, Arizona, and Florida–-HARP refinances represented nearly half or more of total refis during the month.
HARP refinances for borrowers with LTV ratios greater than 105 percent accounted for more than 70 percent of HARP volume in Nevada, Arizona, and Florida and more than 60 percent of the HARP refinances in Idaho and California. Nationwide, LTV ratios above 105 percent characterized more than half of new HARP loans made in August.
FHFA also noted in its report that nearly 18 percent of HARP refinances for underwater borrowers were for shorter-term 15- and 20-year mortgages in August. By reducing their mortgage terms, these borrowers will be able to build equity faster.
Since the program’s inception in 2009, FHFA reports, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have financed more than 1.6 million loans through HARP.