HARP falls short of expectations for mortgage refinancing

Stacey Vanek Smith Sep 12, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY
A mortgage application iStockPhoto

HARP falls short of expectations for mortgage refinancing

Stacey Vanek Smith Sep 12, 2011
A mortgage application iStockPhoto
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Steve Chiotakis: The Federal Housing Finance Agency says it might expand a program that makes it easier for some people to refinance their home loans. The program hasn’t served as many people as it set out to.

From New York, Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek-Smith has more.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: HARP — the Home Affordable Refinance Program — was started back in 2009. Under it, more than 800,000 homeowners have refinanced their mortgage loans and have lowered their monthly payments. That is a far cry from the 5 million homeowners the program was supposed to reach, but that gap isn’t a surprise to housing market analyst Keith Gumbinger.

Keith Gumbinger: These kinds of mass programs that try to address failing borrowers really try to make a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem which is not a one-size-fits-all problem.

One proposed change would allow more homeowners to apply for the program. It would lift the limit on how far underwater an eligible homeowner could be. Underwater is when someone owes more on their house than their house is worth. Greg McBride of Bankrate.com says he thinks that tweak alone could help.

Greg McBride: All the sudden you have a lot of people in the hardest hit markets that now become eligible to refinance at today’s lower rates. And if they’re able to reduce their monthly payments, that’s money that can be pumped back into the economy or used to accelerate the repayment of that mortgage.

Still, McBride doesn’t see the housing market improving anytime soon. He says home prices aren’t going to rise until job growth does.

In New York, I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.

There’s a LOT to celebrate!

It’s National Pumpkin Spice Day, the last day of our fall fundraiser, and thousands of fans like you have invested in Marketplace.

You inspire us, and your support makes us stronger, especially now.