Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought nearly 400,000 refinanced loans in the third quarter, an 82% spike from the second quarter, according to data released Tuesday by their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
FHFA said low mortgage rates boosted refinancings of loans with high loan-to-value ratios under the government-sponsored enterprises' Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by 35%.
Fannie and Freddie refinanced nearly 45,000 loans with LTV ratios of 80% to 125%, compared with 27,120 in the second quarter.
HARP refinancings of underwater loans with LTVs of 105% to 125% totaled 3,560 in the third quarter, up 87% from the second quarter. Since the introduction of the Harp program in April 2009, the GSEs have refinanced 19,859 underwater borrowers.
The HARP program lets borrowers refinance without having new mortgage insurance. (Existing insurance is transferred to the new loan.)
A total of nearly 480,000 high-LTV loans that the GSEs own or guarantee have been refinanced through Harp, which is meant to help borrowers take advantage of historically low mortgage rates.