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Refinances Triple in the Midst of Super-Low Mortgage Rates

Doug Whiteman
Refinances Triple in the Midst of Super-Low Mortgage Rates

Have you refinanced yet, to take advantage of today's rock-bottom mortgage rates? So many people are doing it that lenders are being flooded with three times as many refi applications as they were dealing with a year ago.

The refinancing frenzy shows many homeowners are realizing rates have fallen so steeply that a new home loan can save them money — even if they took out their current mortgage just last year.

Maybe it's time for you to refi, too.

Refi rates are through the roof

Mortgage applications in general ticked up just 0.5% last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Wednesday.

But refinance applications rose 4% from a week earlier, and the number of new refis was up a staggering 199% compared to the same week a year ago, the trade group says. That's nearly three times higher, year over year.

Refinancings last week accounted for 62.2% of all mortgage applications, up from 60.4% a week earlier.

The number of purchase applications — that is, applications for loans to buy homes — fell 4% last week. But they were up 12% versus the same week in 2018.

Use this calculator to see how a refinance could cut your monthly mortgage payment.

The impact from mortgage rates

Andrii Yalanskyi / Shutterstock
Mortgage rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the fall of 2016.

Refinancings are going strong, and the market for buying and selling homes is healthy, too, says Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

"While near term economic uncertainty is still a factor, other fundamental issues, such as a lack of housing inventory in many markets, is preventing purchase activity from meaningfully rising," Kan says. "However, purchase applications were still much higher than a year ago."

Low mortgage rates are helping.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages fell last week to an average 3.57%, from 3.65% the previous week, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, which are a popular refinancing option, slid to an average 3.05%, from 3.14% a week earlier.

The outlook for mortgages

Freddie Mac will release fresh mortgage rates data on Thursday. The rates tend to follow the yields on 10-year Treasury securities, which have been on the rise this week.

The benchmark 30-year mortgage rate is likely to stay low — below 4% — through the end of 2019, according to Freddie Mac's latest forecast.

Mortgage rates are down substantially compared to last year at this time. You can get a 30-year mortgage about 1.5 percentage points below the rates offered in October 2018, and Freddie Mac has said refinancers are saving an average of about $1,700 a year in interest costs.

Check out today's best mortgage rates where you live.

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