The mortgage insurance division of Genworth Financial is beginning to see a noticeable pick up in Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) refinancing applications, a sign that the '2.0' version of the program may finally be gaining traction.

“Last week was our highest application week since the inception of the [HARP],” a Genworth spokesman told ASR sister publication National Mortgage News.

In January, HARP refinancing applications rose 37% on a sequential basis, and 55% from November.

"We're beginning to see broad increases in HARP participation from several large servicers. Some are reaching out to MI borrowers in their marketing campaigns, which they weren't doing before," said Genworth official Alfred King.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) mandated changes to the HARP program last fall through the 2.0 initiative. Tweaks to the program became effective Dec. 1 and included, among other things, lower origination fees.

Yet, most the HARP refi activity is still coming from servicers that are refinancing loans in their own portfolios. King noted that less than 5% of HARP volume is coming from “new” servicers.
HARP 2.0 is supposed to change that equation. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are updating their automated underwriting machines, making it easier for new lender/servicers to refinance loans controlled by other shops.

Economists at the Mortgage Bankers Association told NMN that “HARP 2.0 is accounting for more than 10% of refinance volumes for many lenders. However, there is considerable variation across the industry.”

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