The recently unveiled HARP 2.0 initiative should be "fully" operational in late March or early April and is already exceeding expectations, according to Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan.

Donovan told a Senate panel on Feb. 28 that 50,000 HARP 2.0 refinancings have closed since the program was introduced late last year.

In addition, an informal survey by the agency found that almost 300,000 applications have been filed. "We are encouraged by those numbers so far," the secretary said.

The Obama administration continues to work with the Federal Housing Finance Agency to get more lenders involved in HARP 2.0, a streamlined version of an earlier government refi program.

FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco testified it will be a "few months" before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and most of the industry implement the HARP 2.0 changes.

"Already many of the largest lenders are seeing tremendous borrower interest and we expect to see an increase in HARP volume in the coming reports," DeMarco said.

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