Freddie Mac borrowers who refinanced reduced interest rates by 27% in the first quarter, a high in the 27-year history of the government-sponsored enterprise's analysis.
Homeowners with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage lowered interest rates by 1.5 percentage points, according to a report released Tuesday by Freddie Mac. Those reductions translate into a savings of $2,900 in interest payments in the first year of a $200,000 loan.
Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages hit a fresh low in March, according to Freddie. The 30-year FRM averaged 3.95% for the month, with the 15-year FRM at 3.2%.
The proportion of cash-out refinancings continued its reduced post-bubble role. They made up 21% of all refinancings in the first three months of 2012 at Freddie, up from a 26-year low in the fourth quarter.
The amount of cash-out equity, however, fell to $5.3 billion, its lowest level since 1997. The measure dropped from $7 billion in the first quarter and is down considerably from its high of $83.7 billion in the second quarter of 2006.
Refinanced homes in the first quarter depreciated in value by 9%, the worst tally in the history of Freddie’s analysis.
Home Affordable Refinance Program loans made up 20% of refinance funding, according to Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft. It’s the highest since the start of the Treasury Department program.
“The enhancements to HARP announced in October, such as removing the maximum loan-to-value limit, are beginning to show up in additional refinance volume during the first quarter,” Nothaft said in a news release.