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Mortgage Refi's Comprise Over Half of All U.S. Home Loans Made in Q1

Mortgage Refi's Comprise Over Half of All U.S. Home Loans Made in Q1


Based on ATTOM Data Solutions' second quarter 2020 U.S. Residential Property Mortgage Origination Report, 1.07 million refinance mortgages secured by residential property (1 to 4 units) were originated in the first quarter of 2020 in the United States. That figure was down 16 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019 but up 87 percent from the first quarter of 2019.

With interest rates continuing near all-time lows, refinance mortgages originated in the first quarter of 2020 represented an estimated $328.5 billion in total dollar volume, down 16 percent from the previous quarter but up 105 percent from a year ago.

Refinance loans accounted for 55.7 percent of all 1.92 million home loans in the first quarter of 2020, virtually the same as the 55.9 percent of loans in the fourth quarter of 2019, but up from 41.3 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

"Home-loan data was way up again in the first quarter of the year, with refinancing activity again accounting for more than half the total volume of mortgages. The number and dollar value of home loans marked yet another sign of how charged up the U.S. housing market continued to be in the early months of the year when everything was still pointing in the right direction," said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. "Unfortunately, that is all uncertain now due to the economic fallout from the virus pandemic that could throw the market into a downturn. But at least the market heads that uncertainty with some of the strongest home loans - and by extension, overall market - numbers since the aftermath of the last recession."

Refinance originations increase in most of nation, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago

Lenders originated 1,070,986 refinance mortgages in the first quarter of 2020, down 16 percent from the fourth quarter but up 87 percent from the first quarter of last year.

Residential refinance mortgage originations increased, year over year, in 186 of the 192 metropolitan statistical areas that have a population greater than 200,000 and with at least 1,000 total loans (96.9 percent), including Chicago, IL (up 129.3 percent); Los Angeles, CA (up 115.9 percent); Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (up 87 percent); New York, NY (up 71.2 percent) and Houston, TX (up 53.1 percent).

Counter to the national trend, the number of refinance loans decreased, year over year, in just six of the 192 metro areas, including McAllen, TX (down 29.3 percent); Beaumont, TX (down 13.4 percent); Syracuse, NY (down 1 percent); Amarillo, TX (down 0.4 percent) and Youngstown, OH (down 0.4 percent).

Purchase mortgage originations up 13 percent from a year ago

Lenders originated 606,703 residential purchase mortgages in the first quarter of 2020, down 12 percent from the previous quarter, but up 13 percent from a year earlier.

Residential purchase mortgage originations increased from a year ago in 119 of the 192 metro areas that have a population greater than 200,000 and were analyzed for this report (62 percent). The largest increases were in Savannah, GA (up 299 percent); Lafayette, LA (up 230.9 percent); South Bend, IN (up 143.4 percent); Los Angeles, CA (up 121.7 percent) and Ventura, CA (up 115.5 percent).

Counter to the national trend, residential purchase mortgage originations decreased from a year ago in 73 of the 192 metro areas analyzed in the report (38 percent). The largest decreases were in Myrtle Beach, SC (down 47 percent); Port St. Lucie, FL (down 42.2 percent); Lubbock, TX (down 40.9 percent); Lincoln, NE (down 39.1 percent) and Amarillo, TX (down 38.7 percent).

HELOC originations down 11 percent from year ago, with biggest drops in South Carolina

A total of 244,941 home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) were originated on residential properties in the first quarter of 2020, down 20 percent from the previous quarter and down 11 percent from a year earlier.

Residential HELOC mortgage originations decreased from a year ago in 72.5 percent of metropolitan statistical areas that have a population greater than 200,000 and were analyzed for this report. Some of those metro areas that saw decreases include Washington, DC (down 17.3 percent); Atlanta, GA (down 10.5 percent); Chicago, IL (down 6.2 percent); Phoenix, AZ (down 5.3 percent) and Seattle, WA (down 3.8 percent).

Counter to the national trend, residential HELOC mortgage originations increased from a year ago or stayed the same in 27.5 percent of metro areas analyzed for the report. The biggest increases were in Fort Wayne, IN (up 78 percent); Topeka, KS (up 47.1 percent); Youngstown, OH (up 44.1 percent); El Paso, TX (up 44 percent) and Rochester, MN (up 42.7 percent).

FHA loan share decreases slightly in first quarter

Mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) accounted for 238,747, or 12.4 percent, of all residential property loans originated in the first quarter of 2020. That was down 4 percent from the previous quarter as well as year over year. 

Residential loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accounted for 9.7 percent of all residential property loans originated in the first quarter of 2020, representing an all-time high, since we began tracking in the first quarter of 2000. That figure was up from 9.2 percent in the previous quarter and from 6.8 percent a year ago.

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