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First-Quarter HARP Refinances Double From Q4 2011: FHFA

The number of loans refinanced through HARP in the first quarter of 2012 was nearly double the number of refinances in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the ""Federal Housing Finance Agency's"":http://www.fhfa.gov/ (FHFA) March 2012 Refinance Report released Friday.

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The report showed that 180,185 loans were refinanced through HARP during the year's first quarter, nearly twice the 93,190 refinances in the previous quarter. The month of March alone saw 79,470 loans refinanced with HARP, and nearly one in seven

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loan refinances in the quarter were done through program.

The FHFA attributed most of this increase to the launch of HARP 2.0, an enhanced version of the program that eliminated loan-to-value (LTV) ceilings for borrowers who refinance into fixed-rate loans and lowered or eliminated fees for certain borrowers.

Before the program was changed, fixed-rate mortgages had a LTV ceiling of 125 percent. More than 4,400 underwater loans with LTVs greater than 125 percent were refinanced in the first quarter of 2012. Other factors contributed to the increase in HARP refinances.

Numbers shot up in the first few months of the year with news that mortgage rates were falling to historically low levels. February marked a new low record for mortgage rates and was the start of a sharp spike in refinance activity. As the year's second quarter goes on, mortgage rates continue to fall.

More than 1.2 million loans have been refinanced through HARP since the program began in 2009. Only loans that are guaranteed by ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html or ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ are eligible to participate in HARP.

The full refinance report can be found at ""this link"":http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/23981/March_2012_Refi_ReportF.pdf.

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