Freddie Mac 2014 Third Quarter Refinance Report

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its third quarter 2014 quarterly refinance analysis, showing the share of borrowers who are tapping their equity by cashing out at the time of refinance has doubled from the same quarter last year as a result of broad-based house price appreciation. However, the dollar volume remains very low at an estimated $8.0 billion.

"While the share of borrowers that cashed-out some equity has increased considerably over the past year, the refinance volume has also fallen sharply, resulting in a relatively small amount of equity cashed-out, to the tune of roughly $8 billion which is less than one-tenth of what we saw at the peak in mid-2006,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “That said, based on the analysis contained in our third quarter refinance report, we estimate that those that lowered their payment by refinancing into a cheaper mortgage rate will save more than $1.5 billion in interest payments over the next 12 months of their new loan. On average, that's an interest rate reduction of about 1.3 percentage points -- a savings of about 24 percent. On a $200,000 loan, that translates into mortgage interest savings on average of about $2,700 during the next 12 months."

Of borrowers who refinanced during the third quarter of 2014, 36 percent shortened their loan term, a four percent decline from the previous quarter. From 1990 through 2013, on average 28 percent of borrowers shortened their term.
In the second quarter, an estimated $8.0 billion in net home equity was cashed out during a refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, up from the revised $5.6 billion last quarter. Adjusted for inflation, annual cash-out volumes during 2010 through 2013 have been the smallest since 1997.

In aggregate, U.S. home equity grew by an estimated $3 trillion during the two-year period through June 30, 2014. Much of this gain was attributable to home value gains, with shorter-term loans and faster-than amortized principal paydowns also being a factor.

About 72 percent of those who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage maintained approximately the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance by paying in additional money at the closing table, unchanged from the previous quarter. Twenty-eight percent 'cashed-out' some equity, the highest share in five years; the peak on 'cash-out' share was 89 percent during the second and third quarters of 2006. 

The median age of the original loan outstanding before refinance was 7.0 years during the third quarter. The median age was 7.0 years or older in each of the last four quarters, the most since the analysis began in 1985.

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