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Refinances Jump Markedly to End 2012

The number of borrowers throughout the U.S. who want to refinance their mortgages continues to climb, as new data reveals homeowners headed to lenders in droves at the end of 2012, particularly during the final month of the year.

According to data firm Ellie Mae, 69 percent of mortgage activity in December was related to refinancing. This marks a hefty increase from September 2012′s level of 65 percent and June 2012′s 54 percent total.

A rise in refinances for conventional home loans indicates many borrowers are taking advantage of a government program aimed at making mortgages more affordable for property owners nationwide, the Origination Insight Report shows. The Home Affordable Refinance Program seems to be growing in popularity.

[Related Article: 3 Loans That Are Tough to Refinance]

“Closed conventional refinances with LTVs of 95-percent-plus, a strong indicator of HARP 2.0 activity, jumped up from 9.62 percent in November 2012 to 11.40 percent in December 2012, the highest it has been since we began tracking this data in October 2011,” said Ellie Mae Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Corr.

One minor negative for borrowers who refinanced during the final month of 2012 was that it took longer for them to close. On average, it took those with home loans 57 days to close — roughly a week longer than November’s average, the report details. However, this likely won’t deter many other Americans from looking to reduce loan terms in the coming months.

[Related Article: Why Refinance? Shorter Mortgages]

Mortgage rates are projected to remain in record-low territory through the first months of the new year, if not longer, as the Federal Reserve has stated recently it plans to keep its third round of quantitative easing in effect until the national jobless rate dips a little further. Currently, government data show the jobless rate for the U.S. sits at 7.8 percent.

Other economic conditions, including improving household finances and a continued drop in the number of underwater homeowners nationwide, may also lead the Fed to end its bond-buying period.

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