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Roughly 96,000 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages refinanced under an expanded Home Affordable Refinance Program in July, down 23% from the previous month, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Still, more than 519,000 GSE loans refinanced under the program so far this year, far surpassing the roughly 400,000 in all of 2011.
The FHFA eased guidelines by stripping out limitations on loan-to-value ratios and some repurchase risk on the original loan. Lenders also waive appraisal requirements and other upfront fees on some refinances.
More than 26,600 borrowers with LTV ratios above 125% refinanced under HARP during July, roughly half the amount in June. Before, only between 1,500 and 3,700 severely underwater borrowers took advantage of the program each month. Before lenders began implementing the new guidelines, these borrowers were not eligible.
Roughly 20% of borrowers refinancing under HARP shortened the term of their loan to 15 or 20 years in order to rebuild lost equity faster.
The FHFA expects the expansion of the program to surpass its original expectations.
"When we announced additional program changes to HARP last fall, we were cautiously optimistic that the changes would double or more the number of HARP refinances," said FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco. "With more than half-a-million homeowners taking advantage of the program in the first seven months of this year, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are on track to meet or surpass our original estimates."
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