Refinance volume under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) stayed strong in March even as mortgage rates rose, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported Wednesday.
In March, the GSEs refinanced close to 100,000 loans through HARP, bringing the program total since the 2009 inception to nearly 2.4 million, according to the FHFA. Out of the near 462,000 loans the GSEs refinanced in March, HARP represented about 21 percent of the total.
In the first quarter of this year, about 300,000 loans, or 22 percent of all GSE refinances, were completed through HARP, essentially unchanged from the fourth quarter of last year.
The program continued to provide relief to underwater borrowers, who accounted for nearly half of all HARP refinances. In the first quarter, 45 percent of HARP loans had loan-to-value (LTV) ratios greater than 105 percent, the FHFA reported.
Last year, 44 percent of loans refinanced under HARP were underwater.
Meanwhile, deeply underwater borrowers, or those with LTV ratios greater than 125 percent, accounted for 22 percent of HARP refis in March.
Among underwater borrowers who refinanced in the first quarter, 17 percent opted shorter-term 15- and 20-year mortgages.
During the first quarter, HARP refinances in Nevada accounted for 63 percent of total refinances, which is three times the percentage nationwide. Other states with a high share of HARP refinances during the same time period included Florida (53 percent), Georgia (44 percent), Arizona (41 percent), and Michigan (40 percent).
In Nevada, 76 of borrowers refinanced under HARP were underwater. In Florida and Arizona, 67 percent and 64 percent of HARP refinances were for upside down borrowers.
The program, which was to expire at the end of this year, received a two-year extension to December 31, 2015.