About 21,079 mortgages were refinanced through the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in the fourth quarter compared with about 25,824 in the third quarter, according to figures released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
That brings the total number of mortgages refinanced through the program – which was launched in 2009 – to 3,380,558.
The FHFA continues to try to promote the program before it sunsets on Dec. 30. The agency estimates that more than 365,000 borrowers nationwide could still benefit from the program, which has been extended several times. Participation rates have fallen short of expectations for several different reasons. The agency has been trying boost participation for the past several years.
In an effort to get the attention of those borrowers who could still benefit from the program, the FHFA is launching a social media campaign, #HARPNow, focusing outreach efforts on the top 10 states with the highest numbers of “in the money” borrowers that remain eligible for a HARP refinance.
Those states include Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. The FHFA says these borrowers could save, on average, as much as $200 per month on their mortgage payments, or $2,400 per year, by participating in the program.
The report reveals an interesting statistic: Through December 2015, 28% of all HARP refinances for underwater borrowers (those with a loan-to-value ratio greater than 105%) were for 15- and 20-year mortgages, which help borrowers build equity faster than 30-year, fixed-rate loans.