Government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac processed a total of 44,136 refinances through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in the third quarter – about a 22% decrease compared to the 54,040 processed through the program in the second quarter, according to figures released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
The agency's Third Quarter Refinance Report shows that a total of 892,911 refinances were processed through HARP in 2013; however, as of Sept. 30, only 175,105 refinances had been processed through the program so far this year.
A total of 3,233,061 refinances have been processed through HARP since the program launched in 2009.
According to the FHFA, total refinance volume (both proprietary and HARP) for the third quarter was 389,284, up from 344,507 in the second quarter.
For the third quarter, HARP volume represented 11% of total refinance volume.
As the report shows, about 25% of all HARP refinances for underwater borrowers (those with a loan-to-value ratio greater than 105%) were for 15- and 20-year mortgages.
FHFA estimates that, as of second quarter, there are more than 722,000 borrowers who could be eligible for HARP. Last year, the FHFA launched a marketing campaign and series of ‘town hall-style’ events to help boost awareness of the program and get more homeowners to participate. The next such ‘HARP outreach event’ will be held Dec. 5 in Miami.
Overall, HARP participation rates have fallen far short of government expectations – although it should be noted that as the economy has improved, fewer homeowners are seeking relief through such programs. Originally, the FHFA had forecast that 4 million to 5 million borrowers would take advantage of the program before it was to end in 2013; however, problems with its design, combined with rising interest rates, resulted in lower participation than had been anticipated.
In response, the FHFA, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other industry stakeholders, identified several issues that were deterring homeowners from using the program, including the fact that loans with loan-to-value (LTV) ratios greater than 125% were not eligible for HARP refinances and that the program's short duration (approximately 15 months) was discouraging lenders from participating.
After soliciting feedback from stakeholders, many of the problems with HARP were addressed, compromises were made and in October 2011, a re-branded program, ‘HARP 2.0,’ was launched. Changes included removing the 125% LTV ceiling and extending the duration of the program to Dec. 31, 2015.
Participation, however, has continued to fall short of expectations – even as FHFA officials continue to refine the program and seek new ways to boost performance.
To read the full report, click here.