Banks Benefit From Plan to Aid Struggling Homeowners

Homeowner Aid Boosts Big Banks

A government program that helps struggling homeowners take advantage of low interest rates to cut monthly mortgage payments is providing an unexpected revenue boost to large banks such as Wells Fargo WFC -0.74% & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -1.33% & Co.

Banks that collect those payments, known as mortgage servicers, could get as much as $12 billion in revenue this year refinancing mortgages under the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, according to data compiled by Nomura Holdings Inc.

Borrowers who refinance mortgages through HARP, on the other hand, stand to save between $2.5 billion and $5 billion this year, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of Nomura’s figures.

The contrast is the latest illustration of the competing demands policy makers must juggle when they devise responses to the housing bust, now in its sixth year. Federal officials last year revised the HARP program in a bid to encourage banks to refinance borrowers who were current on their payments but owed more than their properties were worth.

Rest from the WSJ here…

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