HARP Refinancings Rise 75%

Ed DeMarco said HARP could surpass nearly a million borrowers or more by the end of this year. Image: ThinkStock

About 700,000 homeowners refinanced their mortgages through the government’s Home Affordable Refinancing Program in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 75% over all of last year, the overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said this week.

“It is possible that the program could reach nearly a million borrowers, or more, by the end of this year,” Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said in a speech at the Exchequer Club in Washington.

Use of HARP, which applies to loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, surged after its rules were changed this year to encourage lender participation. The government-sponsored enterprises have financed more than 1.7 million loans through the program since it began in 2009.

HARP is intended to help borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth. More than 40% of HARP refinances in the first nine months of 2012 went to such underwater borrowers, DeMarco said.

A quarter of the 90,000 loans refinanced through HARP in September were for mortgages that exceeded the value of the underlying homes by at least 25%.