The ""Federal Housing Finance Agency"":http://www.fhfa.gov (FHFA) announced Monday that it is extending the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) through June 30, 2011.[IMAGE]
HARP is administered by ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com, and is a key component of the administration's foreclosure prevention efforts. Introduced in February 2009, HARP provides mortgage refinancing to borrowers whose homes have lost value and now find themselves owing more than the home is worth.
The program was originally set to expire on June 10 of this year, but as ""DSNews.com previously reported"":http://dsnews.comarticles/industry-pushes-for-extension-of-admins-refinance-program-2010-02-25, several industry trade groups have been lobbying the administration to extend the program, to ensure help remains available to underwater borrowers.
""FHFA has reviewed the current market situation and the state of mortgage insurance availability and has determined that the market conditions that necessitated[COLUMN_BREAK]
the actions taken last year have not materially changed,"" Ed DeMarco, FHFA's acting director, said in a statement.
Under the program, borrowers with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who are current on their payments can refinance into a lower-rate loan Ã¢â‚¬" even if their loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is as much as 125 percent, meaning the outstanding balance on their mortgage is 25 percent more than the home's current value.
As part of the HARP initiative, the GSEs also offer borrowers an incentive to reduce the length of their loan from 30 years to a shorter-term with a faster amortization schedule to allow them to pay down the principal more quickly and reduce lifetime interest payments in order to get ""above water.""
FHFA says the program reduces the risk of default associated with negative equity, and allows the GSEs to better manage the credit risk associated with higher loan-to-value mortgages.
In 2009, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchased or guaranteed more than 4 million refinanced mortgages. Of this total, 190,180 were HARP refinances with LTVs between 80 percent and 125 percent.
The ""Mortgage Bankers Association"":http://www.mortgagebankers.org (MBA) and other industry groups who've been pushing for an extension say HARP will help to ""keep creditworthy, performing borrowers in their homes and out of unnecessary foreclosure, maintain neighborhoods and home prices, and protect Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and taxpayers from unnecessary losses.""