A new mortgage refinancing program from Fannie Mae targeted to low- and moderate-income borrowers opened to applicants June 5.

With mortgage rates still hovering not far from all-time lows, now is a great time for homeowners to consider a refi. However, many lenders have imposed tight credit standards, which meant some low- and moderate-income homeowners were denied the opportunity to save by refinancing to a lower rate.

With that reality in mind, the Federal Housing Finance Agency in April announced a new refinance option for low-income borrowers with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac’s version of the program, called Refi Possible, will launch August 30. FHFA estimates that borrowers who take advantage of the new refinance option could save $100 to $250 a month.

The new refinance option requires that a refi results in a monthly savings of at least $50, and a reduction in the borrower’s interest rate of at least 50 basis points. For properties not eligible for an appraisal waiver, the program offers a $500 credit for appraisal fees.

The program lets borrowers with balances of less than $300,000 out of the adverse market refinance fee that Fannie and Freddie imposed last year.

The new program helps spread the refi savings that mainly benefited financially stable homeowners.


This refi program has very specific eligibility requirements. To qualify, you must:

— Have a mortgage backed by Fannie on a one-unit single-family property. Investment properties and second homes aren’t eligible. (Freddie Mac is expected to start its own similar program this summer.)

— Make 80 percent or less of your area’s median income.

— Not have missed a payment in the past six months. Borrowers can have no more than one missed payment in the past year.

— Have a loan-to-value ratio of 97 percent or less, a debt-to-income ratio of 65 percent or less and a FICO score of 620 or higher.

Borrowers should contact their lenders for more information. Not all lenders will participate in the program, so shop around.