Fewer Americans Are Refinancing Mortgages

Refinance mortgage originations are way down in the U.S. these days, according to new data from property database curator ATTOM Data Solutions.

ATTOM Data Solutions has released its Q3 2018 U.S. Residential Property Mortgage Origination Report, which shows that 681,455 refinance mortgages secured by residential property (1 to 4 units) were originated in the third quarter, down 15 percent from the previous quarter and down 21 percent from a year ago to the lowest level as far back as data is available — Q1 2000.

The refinance mortgages originated in Q3 2018 represented an estimated $175.1 billion in total dollar volume, down 14 percent from the previous quarter and down 21 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since Q1 2014 — a 4.5-year low.

Historical Residential Mortgage Originations Graphic

“Rising mortgage rates continued to dampen demand for mortgages in the third quarter, particularly refinance mortgages,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “There were some notable exceptions to that trend, primarily in markets affected by the hurricanes in the third quarter of 2017.”

Refinance originations increase in Houston, Miami, Tampa

Residential refinance mortgage originations decreased from a year ago in 197 of the 225 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report (88 percent), including Los Angeles (down 31 percent); New York (down 11 percent); Dallas-Fort Worth (down 5 percent); Phoenix (down 14 percent); and Atlanta (down 33 percent).

Counter to the national trend, residential refinance mortgage originations increased from a year ago in 28 of the 225 metro areas analyzed in the report (12 percent), including Houston (up 69 percent); Miami (up 29 percent); Tampa-St. Petersburg (up 33 percent); San Antonio (up 3 percent); and Orlando (up 30 percent).

Purchase mortgage originations down 2 percent from year ago

Lenders originated 892,760 residential purchase mortgages in Q3 2018, down 5 percent from the previous quarter and down 2 percent from a year ago.

Residential purchase mortgage originations decreased from a year ago in 121 of the 225 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report (54 percent), including New York (down 6 percent); Dallas-Fort Worth (down 5 percent); Chicago (down 14 percent); Phoenix (down 2 percent); and Los Angeles (down 14 percent).

Counter to the national trend, residential purchase mortgage originations increased from a year ago in 104 of the 225 metro areas analyzed in the report (46 percent), including Atlanta (up 12 percent); Houston (up 3 percent); Miami (up 2 percent); Tampa-St. Petersburg (up 3 percent); and Nashville (up 1 percent).

HELOC originations down 11 percent from year ago

A total of 313,744 Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) were originated on residential properties in Q3 2018, down 14 percent from the previous quarter and down 11 percent from a year ago.

Residential HELOC mortgage originations decreased from a year ago in 150 of the 225 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report (67 percent), including New York (down 14 percent); Los Angeles (down 18 percent); Seattle (down 3 percent); Chicago (down 27 percent); and Philadelphia (down 16 percent).

Counter to the national trend, residential HELOC mortgage originations increased from a year ago in 73 of the 225 metro areas analyzed in the report (32 percent), including Miami (up 4 percent); Tampa-St. Petersburg (up 22 percent); Kansas City (up 20 percent); Orlando (up 3 percent); and Omaha (up 11 percent).

Median down payment percentage at nearly 15-year high

The median down payment on single family homes and condos purchased with financing in Q3 2018 was $20,250, up 7 percent from the previous quarter and up 16 percent from a year ago to a record high as far back as data is available, Q1 2000.

The median down payment as a percentage of the median home sales price in Q3 2018 was 7.6 percent, up from 7.2 percent in the previous quarter and up from 6.8 percent in Q3 2017 to the highest since Q4 2003 — a nearly 15-year high.

Among 96 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report for down payments, those with the highest median down payment as a percentage of median home sales price in Q3 2018 were San Jose, California (24.7 percent); San Francisco, California (23.3 percent); Los Angeles, California (20.6 percent); Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California(19.0 percent); and Fort Collins, Colorado (18.6 percent).

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