In the fourth quarter, 45% of the homeowners who refinanced their homes got a mortgage at least 5% larger than the original loan, up from 34% in the previous quarter, according to Freddie Mac.The percentage was also higher than the 40% level recorded a year earlier, the government-sponsored enterprise said in its quarterly refinance review. "The atmosphere around refinancing changed in the fourth quarter as mortgage rates started rising from the 45-year lows of the summer," said Amy Crews Cutts, Freddie Mac's deputy chief economist. "Since most of those who could refinance for lower rates have already done so, the later-year market became more attractive primarily to those who want or need to take equity out of their homes."

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