Though HARP is often referred to as “Obama’s refinance program,” perhaps Vice President Joe Biden’s name should be in there as well.
Why? Because the man refinances a lot, if his annual financial disclosure form released this past Friday by the White House is any indication.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a serial refinancer, but he has refinanced his home mortgage several times since buying a Wilmington, Delaware residence for cash back in 1996.
The home, now valued at nearly $1.4 million according to its current Zillow Zestimate, was originally purchased for just $350,000. Yes, it has quadrupled in value in just 18 short years.
And while Biden could have easily paid off his mortgage in full, he continues to carry multiple liens against the home, including a line of credit.
Joe Biden’s Mortgage Adventure
His latest refinance took place in 2013, just a year after long-term fixed mortgage rates hit an all-time low.
But he still seemed to snag the absolute lowest rate available, getting his hands on a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage set at 3.375%. Perhaps he paid points, or perhaps he “knows someone” who gave him an ultra-low rate.
Either way, I guess it was too good to pass up, even with his busy schedule as Vice President of the United States.
He also paid off two HELOCs in 2013, including one set at the prime rate, which he took out in 2005, and one set at 4.49% that he received just one year earlier in 2012.
Additionally, Biden took out a new HELOC set at 2.75%, which is a half-point below the current level of the prime rate.
For the record, the new lender is TD Bank, a Toronto, Canada-based bank and lender. The previous bank was Wilmington Savings Fund Society.
It’s unclear why he keeps refinancing as opposed to just paying his home off, but my guess is that he’s in the invest instead of own free and clear camp.
He certainly has all types of investments, with his disclosure form a full two pages longer than the President’s.
Why Hasn’t Obama Refinanced His Mortgage?
Speaking of, the POTUS still hasn’t touched the 30-year fixed mortgage tied to his Illinois residence after nearly a decade, despite pitching HARP to Americans in speech after speech.
It remains set at what now looks like an astronomical 5.625%, about one and a half percentage points above current market rates.
He took out that mortgage back in 2005, before the housing market peaked and eventually busted.
As to why Obama continues not to refinance, he mentioned last year that “you have to be a little careful about these transactions” when you’re the Prez.
Perhaps the scrutiny involved with refinancing isn’t worth the few thousand bucks he’d save. It’s unclear, but Biden is undoubtedly the more aggressive of the two, and that shows in their mortgages too.
We’ll have to wait and see if Obama refinances once he leaves office in a couple of years. As for Biden, his next refinance might be right around the corner.
Read more: When does it make sense to refinance a mortgage?
(photo: Center for American Progress)