Mortgage refinance volume is up 105% from a year ago: Report

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With plunging mortgage rates reaching all-time lows in the opening quarter, refinance originations totaled $385.5 billion, a 105% increase in dollar volume from a year ago, according to Attom Data Solutions.

Refinances, purchases and home equity lines of credit combined for over 1.92 million originations secured by residential properties in the first quarter. The refi share accounted for 1.07 million loans — a 55.7% share — down 16% from its total in the fourth quarter of 2019, but an 87% annual spike.

Residential refis grew year-over-year in 186 of the 192 largest housing markets. Chicago posted the largest annual jump at 129.3%, followed by 115.9% in Los Angeles and 87% in Dallas. Six metro areas went against the grain with McAllen, Texas, dropping the most at 29.3%, followed by 13.4% in Beaumont, Texas, and 1% in Syracuse, N.Y.

"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," Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom Data Solutions, said in a press release. "The number and dollar value of home loans marked yet another sign of the 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."

"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 [toward] that uncertainty with some of the strongest home loans — and by extension, overall market — numbers since the aftermath of the last recession," Teta added.

Purchase loans also saw a quarterly dropoff, down 12% while rising 13% annually, with a total of 606,703 originations. Purchases increased year-over-year in 119 of the 192 markets, with Savannah, Ga., leading the way with a 299% jump. Lafayette, La., trailed at 230.9% then came 143.4% in South Bend, Ind.

Myrtle Beach, S.C., posted the largest decline at 47%, followed by 42.2% in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and 40.9% in Lubbock, Texas.

HELOC origination volumes, totaling 244,941 loans, fell 20% from a quarter ago and 11% from the same period last year.

Mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration accounted for 238,747 — a 12.4% share — of all residential originations. That total dropped 4% both from last quarter and last year. Conversely, loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hit an all-time high, making up 9.7% of residential loans, up from a 9.2% share the prior quarter and a 6.8% year-over-year.

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Refinance Purchase Originations HELOCs FHA The VA Mortgage rates Coronavirus Attom Data Solutions