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Reports: Refi Numbers Low Despite Low Mortgage Rates

It was no surprise when mortgage rates dropped in the weeks following the ""Fed's announcement"":http://dsnews.comarticles/fomc-adopts-familiar-looking-stimulus-plan-2012-09-13 that it would purchase $40 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) each month until the labor market shows substantial improvement.


Even with the record-low mortgage rates seen today, refinancing numbers are still not as high as expected.

In ""CoreLogic'"":http://www.corelogic.com most recent ""MarketPulse report"":http://www.corelogic.com/downloadable-docs/MarketPulse_2012-October.pdf?WT.mc_id=prnw_121012_Tv9Jf, Sam Khater and Molly Boesel noted, ""the overall level of refinancing is still low given current mortgage rates, and there are still many homeowners nationwide with above market rates.""

Despite the new expansions from HARP 2.0, including the removal of its 125 percent LTV ceiling, other restrictions are still preventing homeowners from refinancing.

One of those restrictions is a HARP guideline that makes borrowers ineligible if they obtained their GSE-backed mortgaged after May 31, 2009.


CoreLogic conducted an analysis to find out who would be excluded from HARP based this particular requirement.

According to its analysis, CoreLogic found that ""lifting the restriction on origination date would expand eligibility of HARP by an additional 2 percent of currently outstanding mortgage, or approximately one million borrowers.""

The report found that those borrowers who are ineligible based on their origination date have an average mortgage rate of 5.22 percent and would save an average of $333 a month.

The authors suggested removing the origination date restriction to extend HARP benefits to an additional one million borrowers, who could then use the savings as a economic stimulus.

""Capital Economics"":http://www.capitaleconomics.com/ also discussed the weak impact of low mortgage rates on refinancing in an analysis wrapping up economic news for the week.

Authored by economists Paul Ashworth and Paul Dales, the report did acknowledge that low mortgage rates led to a surge in mortgage applications, especially for refinancing.

Despite the surge, Capital Economics noted refinancing applications still didn't rise above levels seen in early 2009 when interest rates were also declining.

Rather than focusing on what's specifically preventing HARP refinancings, Capital Economics provided a more general picture of what is happening in refinancing.

""This illustrates how big a restraint it is that almost half of mortgage borrowers can't qualify to refinance because, thanks to the collapse in home prices and tighter lending standards, they don't have the 20% in home equity needed to qualify,"" the research firm observed.

About Author: Esther Cho


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