Amherst Sees HARP Failing Over Fees
Mortgage prepayment speeds have slowed because HARP is less effective than it could be, according to Amherst Securities Group. The Home Affordable Refinance Program, which started early last year, was supposed to “solve the key inhibitor to many borrowers refinancing in our current housing market – negative equity,” the research firm’s MBS strategy group said in its most-recent mortgage insight report. However, high levels of due diligence and onerous fees for borrowers mean that those who should get the refi, likely won't. "While we believe a universal refi program is an unlikely event, we do believe that HARP has been less successful than hoped. We make a case that this is due to frictions in the refi process," said head MBS researcher at Amherst, Laurie Goodman. The program was supposed to open refinance opportunities for homeowners with mortgages owned by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae who were previously unable to do as much because of low loan-to-value ratios. But this hasn’t happened and increases in insurance rates also precluded some borrowers from refinancing. Amherst said nearly $5,200 is required from most borrowers at the close of a refinancing under the federal program. And private banks offer similar rates with lower costs. In the research note, a $250,000 refinancing with close to 80% LTV from JPMorgan Chase would cost $5,299.48 in fees: Write to Jason Philyaw.