Obama Touts ‘Burst of Refinancing’ Because of Housing Plan

By MichaelJames

Mar 19, 2009 8:11pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:

President Obama claimed at an afternoon town hall in Los Angeles that there has been a "burst of refinancing" — a sign of progress for the administration’s housing plan.

California ranks third-highest in mortgages that are seriously delinquent –- so Obama used his afternoon town hall to address the very people who, he believes, should be able to get help soon.

"Our plan included important steps to help lower interest rates," Obama said of his housing plan. "And today, millions of Americans — people who never thought they’d be able to lower their monthly payments — are now able to take advantage of these rates, which are the lowest that they have been in decades. Already, we’re seeing a burst of refinancing."

The president said refinancing applications jumped 30 percent last week, doubling the rate of last fall, which would save “the average homeowner hundreds of dollars a month — the equivalent of a generous tax cut.”

Obama touted the launch of a new Web site, makinghomeaffordable.gov, to help borrowers determine whether they’re eligible for the housing plan, and to help them calculate how much money the plan could save them on their monthly mortgage payments.

He urged people who haven’t filled out their taxes yet and are considering buying a new home to claim an $8,000 tax credit in the recovery plan for first-time home buyers.

“The idea here is very simple: If you buy a home this year, you should be able to get your tax credit this year," Obama said. "That’s when you need it most.”

The president added that California would be receiving $145 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide additional help to communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.

“These funds will be used to buy up and rehabilitate vacant and foreclosed homes and resell those homes with affordable mortgages — and to provide mortgage assistance and rehabilitation loans for low-income and middle-income families.”

The money for the program was a mix of funding that predates the stimulus plus some stimulus funds, White House aides said.

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