New data from Freddie Mac finds 79 percent of homeowners who refinanced their mortgage during the first quarter of 2012 reduced or maintained their principal balance. The number of borrowers who were able to maintain about the same loan amount after refinancing was the highest in the 26 years Freddie Mac has been tracking the data. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, said the typical borrower reduced their mortgage rate by 1.5 percent which, on a $200,000 loan, would save them nearly $3,000 over 12 months. Also, HARP loans accounted for 20 percent of Freddie Mac’s refinance fundings during the first quarter. According to Nothaft, it was the highest share of HARP loans since the inception of the government program and was largely due to recently adopted enhancements.
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