Refinance applications crept higher in November as the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage stayed below 4.6% on average and Home Affordable Refinance Application activity boosted demand, Ellie Mae claims in its latest Insight Report.
Refinance applications grew a bit, representing 46% of all apps on file. That figure is up slightly from 45% in November, but still down from 69% a year earlier.
"HARP-related refinancing activity increased for the second month in a row, as conventional refinances at 95%-plus LTV rose to 12.1% in December, the highest they’ve been since August 2013," said Jonathan Corr, president and chief operating officer of Ellie Mae.
"Overall when rates take a dip, you will see people jump in and try to catch that swing," said Al Crisanty, vice president and national wholesale director of 360 Mortgage Group.
"There will always be demand for refinancing, but we are probably running about 60% purchase, which will continue to increase over time," Crisanty added.
Looking at where the Federal Reserve is heading, the market is in the final throws, Crisanty explained. "Going forward, you could probably say rates will continue to move up, refinances will drop off and that refinance volume number will stabilize at 10% to 20% number across the board," Crisanty said.
Oren Orkin, vice president of mortgage lending with Guaranteed Rate, told HousingWire, "We are back to more of a usual refinance market like what we saw back in 2007 and 2008. You do see someone that didn’t take advantage of low rates, but it is really rare."
"You don’t see the activity that we had over the last couple years. What you do see is debt consolidation and cash out situations. People need the money for whatever reasons," Orkin said.
Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters said it's important to note the refinancing market never comes to a close. People will always do a lot of refinancing. What you do see is deep swings up and down, with the absolute low hitting 20% to 25%.
"Even if interest rates creep up a bit, the fact is that home values are also rising. There are a number of factors that go in on this. It all comes down to two things: what is happening to the economy and job market and what is happening with inflation," Walters added.