By Vicki Needham - 04/11/13 07:56 PM EDT
“We are extending the program so more underwater borrowers can benefit from lower interest rates.”
In addition, the FHFA will soon launch a nationwide campaign to inform more homeowners about HARP.
Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) applauded the extension, saying it underscores the need for Congress to pass its legislation, which would further reduce barriers to refinancing for nearly 12 million homeowners who could benefit from from historically low interest rates.
“That’s an important piece of our plan to help responsible homeowners refinance, but there is more we must do," Menendez said.
"That’s why I will continue to push to pass our bill to further reduce barriers like high appraisal costs and up-front fees."
Earlier this year, Menendez and Boxer reintroduced legislation that would remove barriers to help homeowners refinance into the lowest interest rate possible.
“I am pleased that FHFA has taken a key provision of the Menendez-Boxer bill to extend the HARP program that is helping responsible underwater borrowers to refinance,” Boxer said.
“There’s more we must do, including passing our legislation. The housing recovery has begun, but there are still far too many struggling homeowners who deserve the chance to refinance at today’s low rates.”
The Menendez-Boxer legislation also includes the same broader campaign announced by the FHFA to get more homeowners into the program.
To be eligible for a HARP refinance the loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie or Freddie and, among other qualifications, the borrower must be current on his or her mortgage payments with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.
As of January, more than 2.2 million borrowers refinanced through HARP since its inception in April 2009.