FHFA: More Than 2.5 Million HARP Loans Issued Since 2009

Thanks to historically low interest rates, nearly 107,000 loans were completed through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in April, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

That brought the total number of HARP refinances to more than 2.5 million since April 2009, the FHFA said in its April 2013 Refinance Report.

HARP was established in 2009 to help homeowners who are underwater in their mortgages get refinancing. This is achieved by permitting the transfer of existing mortgage insurance to an owner's newly refinanced loan, or by allowing those without mortgage insurance on their previous loan to refinance without obtaining new coverage.

The program was to end in December this year but has been extended to Dec. 31, 2015.

To qualify for a HARP, the original loan must be owned or guaranteed by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In addition, it must have been delivered to the GSEs on or before May 31, 2009. What's more, a homeowner must have a current loan-to-value ratio of greater than 80%.

According to the FHFA, HARP volume represented 23% of total refinance volume in April. Of the loans refinanced that month, about 20% had an LTV ratio greater than 125%.

About 44% of all HARP loans issued since 2009 have had value ratios greater than 105%, the FHFA's report states.

The data for April shows that 17% of HARP refinances were for 15- and 20-year mortgages, which build equity faster than traditional 30-year mortgages.

Mortgage rates, however, rose in May and then sharply in June, following the Federal Reserve's announcement that it would be tapering its bond-buying program starting in the fourth quarter of this year. That means HARP refinancing volume is expected to show a decline in upcoming Refinance Reports for May and June.

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