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HARP Refinancing Activity Continues Decline

mod-app-approvedRefinance activity remained more or less level from June to July, though interest in the government's Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) continued to dwindle, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported.

In a recent release, the agency reported a combined total of 119,699 refinances were completed at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in July, slightly down from the figure reported for June. While low compared to the boom in recent years, refinance volumes over the last few months have shown more life than earlier this year as mortgage interest rates have hovered in the low 4.0 percent range.

At the same time, HARP refinancing kept on a downward trend, falling to 15,671—a share of about 13 percent of all refinances done at the GSEs, down from 15 percent in June. In total, the program has seen about 3.2 million refinances since its inception.

The falloff in HARP refinancing continues even as the government works to revitalize the program. Throughout this year, FHFA has hosted a number of town hall-style events in order to spread awareness and answer questions about HARP. Meanwhile, the program has been extended through the end of 2015 to open the window for more eligible borrowers.

In its report, FHFA offered one major reason why the government is so motivated to bring more borrowers in: "Borrowers who refinanced through HARP had a lower delinquency rate compared to borrowers eligible for HARP who did not refinance through the program."

One possible cause for the decline in borrower interest is the ongoing recovery in home equity nationwide. As of the end of the second quarter, CoreLogic estimates the national negative equity rate was down to 10.7 percent of all mortgaged homes.

FHFA's data backs that up: Year-to-date, 28 percent of HARP refinances had a loan-to-value ratio of greater than 105 percent, down from 40 percent through all of 2013.

Year-to-date through July, Georgia had the highest share of HARP volume, leading all other states at 36 percent. Following it were Florida (34 percent), Michigan (29 percent), and Nevada and Illinois at 27 percent each. Among all states, HARP share year-to-date came to 18 percent in July.

About Author: Tory Barringer

Tory Barringer began his journalism career in early 2011, working as a writer for the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper before joining the DS News team in 2012. In addition to contributing to DSNews.com, he is also the online editor for DS News' sister publication, MReport, which focuses on mortgage banking news.

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