Rate-and-Term Refinance Activity Spiked 25.6 Percent in May

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Rate-and-term refinance activity spiked 25.6% in May compared with April, as borrowers reacted to a dip in rates, according to Optimal Blue’s Market Advantage mortgage data report.

The report shows that the 30-year conforming rate finished the month at 7.02% – but it bottomed out on May 15 at 6.875%.

“The sharp increase in demand for rate-and-term refinances following a dip in rates indicates that homeowners with rates above 7 percent feel pinched and are sensitive to even modest interest rate movements in the current economic landscape,” says Brennan O’Connell, director of data solutions at Optimal Blue, in a statement. “For context, since Optimal Blue began tracking the 30-year conforming rate as a market index in January 2017, interest rates only exceeded 7.02% on 120 market days. Based on other measures, buyers who locked loans on those days have the highest mortgage rates of the past two decades.”

Total lock volume increased 5.3% in May compared with April  and was up 1.8% year-over-year.

Purchase lock volume increased 4.1% month-over-month.

Cash-out refinances increased 7.2%, according to Optimal Blue’s data.

Major coastal cities that saw the highest month-over-month volume increases included New York, Boston, Jacksonville, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Diego, Sacramento, and Portland, Ore. – each seeing volume gains of 13% or greater.

Average credit scores remained high, with the purchase borrower score averaging 738.

The average loan amount remained flat at $374,500.

Month-over-month, the average home purchase price increased for the fifth consecutive month this year, up $2,400 from $477,900 to $480,300.

Photo: Jungwoo Hong

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