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Refinance volumes remain high despite rising rates

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The latest refinance report released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency revealed that refinance volumes remained high as mortgage rates continue to rise but stay near historic low levels. 

In March, nearly 462,000 refinances took place, with nearly 100,000 completed via the Home Affordable Refinance Program. This brings the grand total of HARP refinances to more than 2.4 million since the program began in April 2009. 

In the first quarter of 2013, nearly 1.4 million refinances belonged to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. Almost 300,000 — an estimated 22% — of those refinances were through HARP. 

The pace of HARP refinances through the first quarter strongly reflects the fourth quarter of 2012, when HARP refinances made up more than 22% of the total. 

The number of HARP refinances completed for deeply underwater borrowers continued to make up a large portion of total HARP volume. In March, 22% of the loans refinanced via HARP had a loan-to-value ratio higher than 125%. 

Additionally in March, 17% of HARP refinances for underwater borrowers were for shorter-term 15- and 20-year mortgages, which typically build equity at a faster pace than a traditional 30-year mortgage.

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