Pushing Refinancing Can Really Help

Recent news reports suggest current borrowers are still having some difficulties getting a HARP 2.0 refinancing. This is too bad, because HARP 2.0 can potentially help a lot in getting many people out from under their troubles.

Consider someone who is 20 percent underwater on her house. If she moves from a six percent loan to a 3.5 percent loan (today’s rate on Zillow), and if house prices go up by only one percent per year (something that I think likely will happen in most markets, for reasons I stated a week or so ago) and if the borrower keeps her payment constant, she will be right-side-up in around four years. If she remains in the six percent mortgage, however, she won’t be right-side up for about nine years.

Note the HARP 2.0 is not rewarding “bad behavior.” It is program for people who are current on their payments but who are also upside down. Many people can look at four years and see a tunnel’s end–I am not sure that is true about nine years.

Of course, refinancing will not solve the Vegas-Phoenix-Inland Empire problem, where many borrowers are 30 percent underwater and more. But for a whole lot of the country, HARP 2 could be a game changer.

About Richard K. Green 103 Articles

Affiliation: University of Southern California

Richard K. Green, Ph.D., is the Director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. He holds the Lusk Chair in Real Estate and is Professor in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Prior to joining the USC faculty, Dr. Green spent four years as the Oliver T. Carr, Jr., Chair of Real Estate Finance at The George Washington University School of Business. He was Director of the Center for Washington Area Studies and the Center for Real Estate and Urban Studies at that institution. Dr. Green also taught real estate finance and economics courses for 12 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was Wangard Faculty Scholar and Chair of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics. He also has been principal economist and director of financial strategy and policy analysis at Freddie Mac.

His research addresses housing markets, housing policy, tax policy, transportation, mortgage finance and urban growth. He is a member of two academic journal editorial boards, and a reviewer for several others.

His work is published in a number of journals including the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Journal of Urban Economics, Land Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Real Estate Economics, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Housing Economics, and Urban Studies.

His book with Stephen Malpezzi, A Primer on U.S. Housing Markets and Housing Policy, is used at universities throughout the country. His work has been cited or he has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and the Economist, as well as other outlets.

Dr. Green earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his A.B. in economics from Harvard University.

Visit: Real Estate and Urban Economics Blog

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