Fannie Mae plans to introduce refinancing options as soon as this week designed to help homeowners who have been unable to take advantage of recent low rates, a person with knowledge of the program said.

The source provided few details, but said the offerings will involve a different approach to appraisals than Fannie has taken in its streamlined refi program.

James Lockhart, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said in December that Fannie and Freddie Mac were reconsidering the necessity of new appraisals when refinancing borrowers to whom the government-sponsored enterprises already have exposure.

Despite a flood of refinance applications in the past two months, some lenders have said that nearly half of all applicants have been rejected because of impaired credit or because they owe more than their homes are worth.

Tighter underwriting criteria such as higher FICO score requirements by the GSEs and mortgage insurers also have created roadblocks to refinancings.

Derek Chen, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said last month that waiving the reappraisal requirements would "unleash a major refinancing wave."

According to Fannie's lender guide, its streamlined refinancing program permits lenders to use the original appraisal report for the new loan. However, the guide warns that by doing so, a lender is promising Fannie "that the value of the property has not declined. If the lender is concerned about its ability to make this warranty because there has been a decline in market value in a particular area since … the original appraisal … [then] the lender should obtain a new appraisal report."

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