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FHFA Refocuses HARP Awareness Amid New Numbers

refinanceFor a program that was only supposed to be temporary, HARP is still going rather strong.

On Wednesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its Q4 2015 totals for loans refinanced through the Home Affordable Refinance Program. FHFA reported that 21,079 HARP refinances were completed between September and December, bringing the grand total since the program’s 2009 launch up to nearly 3.381 million.

According to the agency, 28 percent of all HARP refinances for underwater borrowers ‒‒ those with a loan-to-value ratio greater than 105 percent ‒‒ were for 15- and 20-year mortgages, through December. Such loans help borrowers build equity faster than traditional 30-year mortgages, and FHFA found that borrowers who refinanced through HARP had a lower delinquency rate compared to HARP-eligible borrowers who did not refinance through the program.​

FHFA also estimated that as of Q3 2015, more than 367,600 borrowers nationwide still have a financial incentive to refinance through HARP before the program expires this December.

To get through to the large pool of homeowners who could still take advantage of HARP, the FHFA is starting a social media campaign called #HARPNow. The initiative will be focusing its outreach efforts mainly on the 10 states with the highest number of borrowers thought to be “in-the-money,” meaning they meet the basic HARP eligibility requirements, have a remaining mortgage balance of $50,000 or more, have a remaining term of greater than 10 years, and have an interest rate at least 1.5 percent higher than current market rates.

The states with the most eligible borrowers, in order, are Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland.  Florida, in fact, has nearly as many eligible borrowers as Illinois and Michigan combined, with 51,100 HARP-eligible borrowers.

FHFA has teamed up with the Treasury Department, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and local housing experts for town hall-style events in Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Phoenix, Atlanta, Newark, and Columbus throughout 2016. FHFA estimates these borrowers could save as much as $2,400 a year on their mortgage payments.

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