It’s a good 2016 start for mortgage lending – or at least that’s what the numbers say. In a latest data report released by Equifax, the first quarter of the year has seen increases in mortgage activity, owing to the positive financial wave that Brexit resulted after its June 23rd referendum.
For starters, refinance mortgage applications have rocketed up, a report that is echoed by Fitch Ratings. But it’s not the only activity that shared a significant hike; actual first mortgage originations owned a total dollar amount of $450.5 billion in the first financial quarter of the year, a 12.3 percent year-over-year increase and the highest amount for a first quarter since 2013.
The total number of new first mortgages increased by 10.3 percent over the same time period last year, that translates to 1.86 million new mortgages.
As rates remain low, many people are taking advantage of the opportunity to lock down on rates and refinance their mortgages. Many are seeing how they can use the new low rates to cash out from their equity, while others are strategizing to get a shorter loan life, while securing even less on their monthly payments. And the options will be there for a while.
Freddie Mac predicted that rates are “likely to remain low throughout the summer,” as its Chief Economist Sean Becketti says.
It is, thus, no surprise that along with the refinancing surge, home equity loans have gone up as well. According to the same report, there was a 23.5 percent year-over-year increase in home equity installments in terms of the number of mortgages originated and a corresponding 10.2 percent increase in home equity lines of credit during the same time period.
For HELOCs, the total credit limits of new loans originated in the first quarter of 2016 was $35.2 billion, a remarkable eight-year-high and an astounding 14 percent year-over-year increase. Equifax’s chief economist Amy Crews Cutts predicts the second quarter will maintain the trend.
The numbers are telling and it’s all good – at least for now. Summer is projected to continue to have lower interest rates but December will potentially ramp it up a percent, if not two.
The flood of Fed speeches last week seems to be pointing to that hike. Once a clear post-Brexit outlook is established, the Fed would most likely resume lifting rates again.
For now, the cards are with the homebuyers and they’re playing them well.
Justin McHood is America's Mortgage Commentator and has been providing expert mortgage analysis for over 10 years.