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Home refinancing to get easier

Home refinancing to get easier

The U.S. government’s home-refinancing program is being overhauled, announced officials of the independent Federal Housing Finance Agency. Changes include an easing of the rules for qualifying and reduction of some fees. The goal is to make the Home Affordable Refinance Program more broadly available to borrowers who are struggling.

Under the revamped guidelines, mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can be refinanced if they were secured on or before May 31, 2009. The loan amounts must exceed 80% of the current market value of the properties. Homeowners must also be current with no late payment in the last six months and no more than one late in the last 12 months. And borrowers who owe more than 125% of the value of their homes cannot be automatically barred from applying.

Through August 2011, about 900,000 homeowners have refinanced through government programs. The Obama administration seeks to help several million more. The new rules will be issued to lenders November 15.