Huntington Bank and Quicken Loans Still Pushing HARP Hard
By Kerry Curry | May 5, 2016
Borrowers who have refinanced under the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) saved an average of $189 per month in the third quarter of 2015, based on Federal Housing Finance Agency statistics for savings during that period. That’s good news for lenders trying to get the word out about the program to their consumers — and to other lenders who may want to keep pushing HARP till year-end.
“The biggest thing we are doing is not giving up, just because it’s late in the game,” says Jay Plum, consumer and mortgage lending director at Huntington National Bank, a Midwest-based lender.
“We think there is plenty of opportunity to refinance and rates are certainly working in our favor,” says Plum.
Significant property appreciation over the past two years has likely slowed HARP refinances as much as anything. “But there are still folks in our footprint who may be challenged by their property values. They are better off but still not where they need to be, and HARP is a great tool.”
Huntington’s footprint is largely focused in Ohio and Michigan, two states that saw some dramatic declines in property values during the housing crisis. It also has a presence in West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
“We have never stopped promoting HARP in terms of all of our distribution channels,” he says. “We realize this last batch of customers are the true skeptics or the folks who may have thought their time had come and gone.”
Providing Incentives to Potential HARP Customers
Dan Shanahan, mortgage retail division manager at Huntington, says the bank has offered to waive closing costs for HARP refis on properties located in low- to moderate-income census tracts.
The bank – which has conducted five to six direct mail campaigns on HARP – is now considering one last advertising push before the program ends and envisioning what that might look like.
Bill Banfield, a vice president at Quicken Loans, says the mortgage lender has been a firm believer in educating the public about HARP.
It is currently running television ads that encourage homeowners to contact Quicken Loans to see if they qualify for a HARP refinance. And it has used a wide variety of advertising since HARP’s inception – including online and direct mail campaigns.
“We’ve maintained our HARP advertising pretty strongly even though HARP expires at the end of the year,” Banfield says. “We continue to see a very steady flow of HARP-eligible clients coming in to refinance.”
Banfield says he thinks many lenders have already wound down their advertising and marketing related to HARP, but Quicken Loans believes it’s important to keep getting the word out.
“We’ve kept ours going because we still think a lot of people can benefit from it,” he says.
Visit HARP.gov to learn more about HARP.
Kerry Curry is a freelance writer for several Texas and national publications and is the former executive and magazine editor of HousingWire.