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Today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its January 2013 Refinance Report which provides information on loan modifications and refinancing during the first month of this year, not just through the federal HARP option for homeowners (Home Affordable Refinance Program), but through other re-financing alternatives available through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, too. The refinancing of underwater mortgages across the country via HARP is discussed in detail, too.

The FHFA January 2013 Refinance Report can be read online or downloaded as a .pdf document.

What Does the FHFA Refinance Report Tell Us?  

First, the Refinance Report gives the numbers for refinanced mortgages in America during one month via FHFA: January 2013.  During that 31-day time period,  almost one-half million home loans were refinanced (470,000) by entities overseen by FHFA.  Out of that number, almost 25% (97,600) were HARP refinances.

Second, the Report gives numbers that apply only to FHFA refinances.  However, since FHFA’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are responsible for the majority of home mortgages in the United States today (FHFA sets their involvement at 65%) , it gives a pretty good indication of how loan modifications and mortgage refinancing is doing right now.

Other information released today in the FHFA Refinance Report: 

  • In January 2013, 56% of refinances done in Florida were done through HARP: “… more than double the 21 percent of total refinances nationwide,” according to today’s Report.
  • Seriously underwater mortgages were refinanced by HARP: a quarter of the HARP refinances involved mortgages were the homes had a 125% loan-to-value ratio.
  • Underwater mortgages as a whole, i.e., any mortgage that exceeded the value of the home by 5% or more, made up almost half of the January 2013 HARP refinances.

Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:

HARP was introduced by FHFA back in 2009 as a new offering in via the Treasury Department in President Obama’s “Making Home Affordable” program.   It was a creation designed for people who were not finding lenders willing to modify or refinance home loans because the mortgages were underwater or because of problems in getting insurance coverage for these homes with risky loan-to-value ratios.  HARP was designed to charge into situations like the cavalry and save home owners from foreclosure.

Over time, HARP has regrouped and extended its program wider than its first approach.  In October 2011, for example, HARP tossed out its limitations on what underwater mortgages would be considered for refinancing through HARP: before that change, only mortgages that were 125% underwater were eligible.

HARP does help people stay in their homes and that’s a good thing.  Today’s report shows that Florida home owners have been helped quite a bit by this program.

However, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  The federal government has a number of programs designed to help underwater mortgages get refinancing (a few of them are discussed here).

There’s also the tried and true way of sitting down at a table with a banker and trying to hammer out a new deal.  In the past, loan modifications were unwelcome in many Florida foreclosure negotiations – or the banker paid lip service to the idea and nothing came of it.  Today, borrowers working with foreclosure defense lawyers are finding banks and mortgage lenders much more receptive to the idea of restructuring an underwater mortgage and refinancing is a real alternative for many Florida borrowers.

The numbers today provided in the FHFA Refinance Report bring good news for Florida — and they serve as a reminder to those that aren’t eligible for HARP: you may have a much better chance at getting your Florida home loan refinanced in 2013 than you have had in the past several years.


Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.

“I’m happy to take your call.”

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