On Thursday, Feb. 7th, The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act of 2013 was introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in an effort to remove the barriers preventing many Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers from refinancing their loans to the lowest rate possible. If passed, the legislation would direct the GSEs to require the same streamlined underwriting and associated representations and warranties under the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP) to new servicers who now face stricter underwriting guidelines and fear greater risk from put-backs and loan repurchases than do the current servicers who already have the risk. This action levels the playing field and unlocks competition between banks for borrowers' business – lowering the cost of refinancing for consumers.
Also, the bill prohibits the GSEs from charging up-front fees to refinance any loan they already guarantee; it requires the GSEs to develop additional streamlined alternatives to manual appraisals, eliminating a significant barrier and reducing cost and time for borrowers and lenders alike, especially in rural areas; and it extends the HARP program for one additional year beyond its scheduled expiration of December 31, 2013.
The National Association of REALTORS®, along with the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the Housing Policy Council for the Financial Services Roundtable and other industry participants, strongly support this effort to bring relief to still struggling homeowners.