During a Housing Refinance Roundtable today, President Obama urged homeowners to take advantage of the record low mortgage rates currently on offer.
He made the remarks while sitting with a number of families who were able to refinance their mortgages after struggling with unaffordable mortgage payments (what about all those who are too far underwater or hold jumbo loans?).
“What you’ve seen now is rates are as low as they’ve been since 1971,” Obama said. “Three-quarters of the American people get their mortgages through a Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac qualified loan.”
“And as a consequence of us being able to reduce the interest rates that are available, we have now seen some extraordinary jumps in the rate of mortgage refinancings.”
“We’ve already seen a substantial jump — 88 percent increase in refinancings over the last month. We’ve seen Fannie Mae refinance $77 billion of mortgages in March, which is their highest volume in one month since 2003. And rates on 30-year mortgages have dropped to an all-time low of 4.78 percent.”
He noted that the families who accompanied him at the event were able to achieve more sustainable monthly mortgage payments via refinancing, and estimated that the average family could save $1,600 to $2,000 a year if they took advantage of the offers currently on the table.
“So the main message that we want to send today is, there are 7 to 9 million people across the country who right now could be taking advantage of lower mortgage rates.”
He added that the Administration is also working to implement some “additional phases of the program,” such as its loan modification program for “responsible homeowners who made their payments” but fell behind because of job loss, sickness, etc.
“The main message we want to send today is, is that the programs that have been put in place can help responsible folks who have been making their payments, who are not looking for a handout, but this allows them make some changes that will leave money in their pockets and leave them more secure in their homes.”
Obama plugged the MakingHomeAffordable.gov website several times throughout his address to ensure homeowners actually knew where to go to get help.
He also warned against loan modification scams, urging homeowners to steer clear of companies that demand money for services upfront.
I’m somewhat curious if we’re helping the banks/mortgage lenders more than the homeowners here because private label mortgages seem to be at the root of the problem, not Fannie/Freddie loans.