Search Form
Now choose a category »

Public Statements

Letter to Secretaries Geithner and Donovan, Director Sperling, and Acting Director DeMarco

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) joined eight of their colleagues in urging the Obama administration to ensure that the greatest number of borrowers possible are able to take advantage of the newly-announced housing reforms to streamline the refinancing process and reduce costs.

Specifically, the Senators requested that the proposed reforms be extended to higher equity borrowers with non-delinquent Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed loans, arguing that these borrowers should have the same access to simple, low-cost refinances as those targeted by the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

In a bipartisan letter to top administration officials, the Senators wrote, "Not only is this an issue of fairness, but applying these measures to higher equity borrowers makes good business sense. Allowing banks to have a single set of rules for all borrowers will simplify the process and encourage greater participation in the program."

In addition to Senators Boxer and Isakson, the letter is signed by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Begich (D-AK), John F. Kerry (D-MA), Scott P. Brown (R-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ).

November 2, 2011

Honorable Shaun Donovan
Secretary United States Department of Housing and Urban Development 4
51 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410

Honorable Timothy Geithner
Secretary
United States Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220

Mr. Gene Sperling
Director
National Economic Council
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20502

Mr. Edward DeMarco
Acting Director
Federal Housing Finance Agency
1700 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20552

Dear Secretaries Geithner and Donovan, Director Sperling, and Acting Director DeMarco:

The changes announced last week to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) were an important step forward toward lowering the barriers that have kept responsible borrowers trapped in higher interest loans. It is critical to both the housing market and the overall economy that as many borrowers as possible have access to today's historically low interest rates.

In addition to removing several barriers specific to underwater borrowers, the expanded program also made several important changes to streamline the underwriting process and reduce the costs of refinancing. Removing appraisal requirements in certain conditions as well as eliminating or lowering other fees will significantly reduce closing costs and ease the refinancing process.

While we applaud these measures, they should be expanded to include borrowers with more equity in addition to those with little or no equity. As currently structured, these reduced costs would apply only to HARP-eligible borrowers with less than 20 percent equity, a pool of approximately three to four million. However, there are nearly 12 million additional loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with greater equity paying interest above 5.0 percent that could benefit from a refinance. These borrowers should have the same access to simple, low-cost refinances as those targeted by HARP.

Not only is this an issue of fairness, but applying these measures to higher equity borrowers makes good business sense. Allowing banks to have a single set of rules for all borrowers will simplify the process and encourage greater participation in the program.

As you prepare the final rules for the announced changes, we urge you to apply the streamlined process and reduced costs as broadly as possible, and to include all responsible homeowners no matter what their level of equity.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Johnny Isakson
United States Senator

Robert Menendez
United States Senator

Jeff Merkley
United States Senator

Sheldon Whitehouse
United States Senator

Mark Begich
United States Senator

John F. Kerry
United States Senator

Scott P. Brown
United States Senator

Ron Wyden
United States Senator

Frank R. Lautenberg
United States Senator


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top