Obama told reporters that he is not satisfied to "sit by and wait for the housing market hits bottom," casting himself as a president in charge of the recovery.
The president's plan lets borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, saving the typical borrower roughly $1,000 a year, according to the White House.
Obama said this step will "make refinancing even more attractive to families," noting that it was akin to a tax cut for U.S. families.
While the president called for Congress to act on his broader mortgage refinance plan, he emphasized that the steps he announced today require no congressional approval.
The president also announced relief for military personnel forced to sell their homes for less than the amount owed because of a permanent change in their station.
"It is unconscionable," Obama said, that members of the armed forces and their families have been some of the most susceptible to losing their homes because of the actions of unscrupulous banks and lenders.
Service members will receive refunds if they were wrongfully denied the opportunity to reduce their mortgage payments through lower interest rates. In addition, any military personnel wrongly foreclosed upon will be compensated for lost equity, plus interest and $116,785.
It has been five months to the day since the president's last formal, solo, White House news conference.