Freddie Mac said today that it would be opening up refinance opportunities to borrowers who are not underwater on their existing Freddie Mac mortgages.  Under the company's Relief Refinance Mortgage Program which includes the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) the requirements for refinancing mortgages with loan-to-value ratios at or under 80 percent will be brought in line with those with LTVs over 80 percent, the target audience for HARP 2.0 loans.

The alignment will involve eliminating many of the representation and warranty requirements that exist on the mortgages being refinanced.  It is hoped this will act as an incentive to lenders to promote the loans.  Freddie Mac said it is further evaluating the Relief Refinance program, specifically looking at the Open Access offering to determine the best way to reach eligible borrowers and assist lenders in managing capacity.  Open Access is designed to promote competition so that borrowers can obtain Relief Refinance Mortgages including HARP 2.0 from lenders other the one associated with their existing servicer.  

Freddie Mac will announce details of the program changes by mid-September and they will go into effect for loans delivered after January 1, 2013.  The changes are based on lender feedback on HARP 2.0 which was rolled out starting last fall

Paul Mullings, Senior Vice President and Interim Head of Single Family at Freddie Mac said, "Once implemented the changes will give lenders a new measure of certainty and ease when they help borrowers with Freddie Mac owned- or guaranteed- mortgages take advantage of today's historically low mortgage rates.  This will help us build on the success of the HARP 2.0 and Relief Refinance Mortgage programs of helping more than 1.3 million Freddie Mac borrowers.  Today's announcement further underscores Freddie Mac's vital role in making affordable mortgage financing available to America's homeowners and future homebuyers."