Increasing mortgage rates continued to fuel a steep decline in the number of home loans paid off in Colorado in the first quarter. The number of home loans paid off fell 49% from the first quarter of 2013.

According to a new report released today by the Colorado Division of Housing, public trustees in Colorado released a total of 50,128 deeds of trust during the first quarter of 2014, which was the lowest quarterly total recorded since the Division began collecting quarterly totals in 2008.

The number of home loans paid off fell 19.6% from the fourth quarter of 2013, when 62,312 deeds were released.

Typically, a release of a deed of trust occurs when a real estate loan is paid off whether through refinance, sale of property, or because the owner has made the final payment on the loan.

Decreases in release activity occur as refinance and home-sale activity decreases, and rising release totals typically indicate increases in the demand for home loans and real estate.

“This is the fourth quarter in a row of declines in release activity, and it looks like the most recent refinance boom is already over,” said Ryan McMaken, an economist with the Colorado Division of Housing. “Mortgage rates are still low compared to where they were in 2008, but we’ve seen some significant increases in rates since 2012.”

Trends in release activity were not uniform across the state, although all of the 21 counties surveyed reported decreases in release activity from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of this year.

The largest increases were reported in Broomfield and Boulder counties where release activity decreased 61.5% and 58.9%, respectively. The smallest decreases were found in Eagle and Alamosa counties where activity decreased 21.1% and 31.1%, respectively.

“Release activity is still relatively strong in some high-income areas and places with strong employment,” McMaken said.