TQ: Your recent article defending cooperatives as housing investments is welcome indeed. But there still remains a serious problem for those of us who presently own cooperative apartments: We cannot borrow on our apartments. We co-op dwellers have absolutely no real equity as have condominium dwellers. I daily grow more frustrated that I have more than $50,000 sitting in an all-cash efficiency apartment for which I have few tax breaks and no way for a second mortgage. Is there anything I can do?

A: Yes, indeed, there is a lot that you can do, especially now that the secondary mortgage market -- especially Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association -- has approved cooperative financing packages.

It is my understanding that several lenders in the Washington metropolitan area now are willing and prepared to make refinance loans for the kind of situation you have described.

One lender, for example, has two kinds of refinance programs. The first is without an equity withdrawal. This means that the proceeds of a new loan will repay all existing liens in total, but the borrower will not pull any new money out of the transaction. This kind of refinance loan generally is used where a promissory note is coming due.

For example, you bought your cooperative apartment five years ago, and in those days, because money was not commercially available, the seller took back financing, but that financing became due (i.e., ballooned) in five years. Now the five years are up, and the lender -- your previous seller -- wants his money. There are programs available where you can borrow just enough money to pay off that existing debt.

There is also a program available whereby you can "pull" your equity out of the cooperative apartment. You have indicated that you have approximately $50,000 in "dead equity," and want to use that money and get some tax benefits as well.

Under this approach, there are lenders willing to make "equity withdrawal" loans whereby, if you have sufficient equity, you can borrow and use that equity as security.

One lender in town that has jumped into making shared loans on a large-scale basis is permitting cooperative owners such as yourself to refinance on owner-occupied properties without an equity withdrawal, and the maximum loan-to-value ratio is 95 percent. This means that, if you had an outstanding balloon note, you probably could pay it off in its entirety with a co-op loan.

For financing on owner-occupied properties with an equity withdrawal, the maximum loan-to-value ratio is 80 percent.

Thus, in your example, if you have $50,000 in equity, you would be able to borrow as much as $40,000 from the lender. The only string attached to this kind of loan -- assuming, of course, that you can qualify financially -- is that you must have been a member in your cooperative for a minimum of two years.

Most of the lenders now making cooperative loans have a variety of loan programs, ranging from one- to three-year adjustables to 15-year fixed-rate mortgages.

The minimum amount that you must borrow is $15,000, and the maximum is $115,300.

Needless to say, you should start to shop around, because programs are available that may meet your needs.

It also should be pointed out that the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency has just announced a new single-family bond issue designed Thirty-year, fixed-loan rates will be available at 10 3/4 percent . . . . primarily for new cooperative owners. On Feb. 6, the Housing Finance Agency reserved more than $11 million for cooperative shared loans, and this entire allocation has been purchased by the National Cooperative Bank.

Its affiliate, the Shared Loan Service Corp., will originate and deliver these loans at surprisingly low interest rates.

Thirty-year, fixed-loan rates will be available at 10 3/4 percent, primarily to first-time home buyers for cooperative units not exceeding a purchase price of $110,000. These loans are limited to single individuals with incomes of less than $31,000 and families of four with incomes under $44,000. Under this D.C. bond program, the seller will be charged 2 1/2 percent of the loan amount, and the borrower will be charged 1 percent. These are the so-called traditional "points" that all lenders typically charge their borrowers.

There are restrictions on this new D.C. bond program, and you should contact the Shared Loan Service Corp. at 745-4713 for additional information.