About 800,000 families across the country could benefit from the Home Affordable Refinance Program by lowering their monthly mortgage payments, but fear is keeping them away from the program, said Mel Watt, director of Federal Housing Finance Agency, in remarks at a public campaign in Atlanta this week to promote HARP.
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“HARP is designed to reward those borrowers who are the most committed in this country," Watt said. "This is not a scam."
The FHFA estimates that eligible borrowers could save nearly $2,300 per year on their mortgage payments with HARP. But Watt said too many borrowers are still not taking advantage of the program.
“As it stands now, people don’t trust their lenders, and it’s creating uncertainty,” Watt told HousingWire. “We know that there are hundreds of thousands of borrowers who can still benefit from the Home Affordable Refinance Program and are essentially leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of the program.”
To date, 3.1 million mortgages have been refinanced through HARP. Watt said he hopes the public campaign that FHFA is launching will help more borrowers take part in HARP.
"By engaging directly with local community leaders, faith-based organizations, local elected officials, and lenders, our goal is to leverage these trusted sources to reach as many 'in-the-money' borrowers as we can," Watt said.
FHFA released a new interactive map that reveals the number of estimated borrowers who are eligible for HARP across the country. Borrowers in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, and California have some of the largest number of borrowers eligible for HARP.