Mortgage bankers are hailing the Obama administration’s decision Monday to begin yet another attempt to help “underwater” homeowners who are current on their payments to refinance and avoid foreclosure.
“This might be just the incentive that you need to go, ‘Hey, maybe I’m going to keep this house,’ ” said Keith A. Luedeman, CEO of GoodMortgage.com. “I think it’s a good idea.”
The administration announced new rules with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to make it easier for borrowers to obtain cheaper loans even if they have little to no equity in their homes. The FHFA will loosen terms of the 2-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which helps borrowers who have been making mortgage payments on time but who have not been able to refinance as their home values have dropped.
The initiative announced Monday by Mr. Obama is at least the 10th housing-relief program that the administration has introduced in the past three years, none of which has made much impact on the beleaguered market.
Among the changes are the elimination of certain refinancing fees, lower closing costs and the removal of the requirement that homeowners be no more than 25 percent underwater.