It was encouraging to hear that housing is solidly on the Obama Administration's radar. The president confirmed this during a live online interview Wednesday.
Of particular note were his comments about HARP 3, the proposed third version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP was first introduced in 2009 to help struggling homeowners reduce their mortgage payments by refinancing their government-secured loans (mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).
HARP 3 would make it easier for all homeowners, whether they have a government-secured loan or a private one, to refinance their mortgage.
Despite all the great news in housing (there's plenty of it in the RE/MAX National Housing Report), the truth is that there are still many homeowners who are underwater or who haven't regained all of the equity they lost during the recession. Most of the people this pertains to probably bought their homes at the peak of the market, when home values were inflated and interest rates were closer to 7 percent.
If homeowners were able to take advantage of the amazing interest rates right now (about 4.5 percent!), they'd be able to regain equity more quickly; they wouldn't be paying as much interest at the same time that their home's value is inching higher.
HARP 3 would be good for homeowners, for neighborhoods, for the housing market, and for the overall economy. And it's especially good that there's buy-in all the way at the top.
As President Obama noted, if more people are able to refinance their homes, they're more likely to feel comfortable taking on something like a car loan. When consumer confidence is high, that's when the economy is at its strongest.
If you think a HARP 3 program would be good for the United States, let your congressman or congresswoman know.
If you're a homeowner who's struggling, find a local RE/MAX agent who can help you reach the best resolution.