The state’s House of Delegates recently passed by a 134-to-0 vote a bill that would make it easier for homeowners to refinance mortgages at today’s low rates.

The bill, modeled after a law Virginia adopted more than a decade ago, would allow homeowners to proceed with refinancing a first mortgage without permission from a second mortgagor. The process of seeking such approval can be costly, confusing and time-consuming, according to the bill’s sponsors.

“Too many homeowners struggle to make payments on more than one mortgage,” said Del. Sam Arora, a Montgomery County Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, HB 88. “We have a real opportunity to help them by removing an unnecessary barrier to locking in lower interest rates and stay in their homes.”

For the law to apply, the principal of the second mortgage would have to be $150,000 or less. The principal of the refinanced mortgage must also be less than the outstanding principal of the first mortgage plus $5,000, according to the Department of Legislative Service’s analysis of the bill.

Last year, about 25 percent of U.S. homes were subject to more than one mortgage, the analysis said.

“The bottom line is that this is a bipartisan, pro-consumer idea,” said Del. Brian Feldman, another Montgomery County Democrat who is also a co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill is supported by AARP Maryland, Associated Black Charities, the Maryland Association of Mortgage Professionals, the Maryland Bankers Association and the Maryland Association of Realtors, according to Arora and Feldman.

The senate version of the bill, SB 199, has passed out of the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee, Arora said. He expects to will be taken up on the senate floor next week, he said.

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