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Mortgage rates fuel April HARP refinancings: FHFA

Refinance volumes remained high in April as mortgage rates dipped slightly from March.

A little more than 106,900 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages refinanced through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in April, representing 23% of the total refinance volume, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Monday.

The report, which covers April data, is reflective of a period occurring before the Fed suggested a potential tapering of mortgage-asset purchases as early as this year.

Of the loans that refinanced through HARP in April, 20% had loan-to-value ratios greater than 125%.

Low interest rates remain a facilitator for higher refi volumes, with HARP refi activity remaining high as long as mortgage rates continue to hover near record low levels, the conservator said in its report.

The total number of GSE loan refinancings since the inception of HARP has reached 2.57 million, FHFA data shows. 

When looking at year-to-date figures through April, borrowers with LTV ratios greater than 105% represented 44% of HARP loans, while 17% of refinances for underwater borrowers were for 15- and 20-year mortgages, suggesting homeowners are building equity more rapidly.

In the hardest-hit states Arizona, Florida and Nevada, underwater borrowers represented 63% or more of HARP volumes.

States with the highest number of HARP loans since the inception of the program through April included California (357,751), Florida (225,447), Michigan (172,420), Illinois (170,736) and Arizona (127,136).

Since the program’s inception, roughly 2.2 million loans refinanced through HARP were for primary residences, 82,123 were for second homes and 272,530 were for investment properties.

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