Higher mortgage rates cut “refi-eligible” population, Black Knight says

Refi-eligible pool drops to 6.8 million from 11.7 million in early September

The pool of 30-year fixed-rate mortgages held by people paying financing costs that are 0.75% or higher than current rates dropped to 6.8 million in the last week of October, down from a record high of 11.7 million in early September, according to Black Knight.

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage reached a three-year low of 3.49% during the week ended Sept. 6, according to Freddie Mac.

Since then, the mortgage rate rose to 3.78% for the week ended Nov. 1, the highest since mid-July, Freddie Mac said.

Black Knight measures the “refi-eligible pool” as not only those who would benefit from a rate reduction, but who also have the credit scores and other qualifications needed to qualify for a loan.

“Even with these recent pullbacks, the refi-able population is still nearly 60% larger than this time last year,” Black Knight said in a statement accompanying its monthly Mortgage Monitor report.

Investors hopeful about a possible thaw in the trade war between the U.S. and China have driven mortgage rates higher by putting more of their money into the stock market, meaning mortgage securitizers need to offer higher coupon rates, designating how much a bond will pay, to attract business. That results in higher rates for home-loan borrowers.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs on Friday after China gave signs a trade deal might be reached and a U.S. government report showed the American economy added more jobs than expected in October.

Xinhua News Agency, China’s state-run media, said the world’s two largest economies had come to a “consensus on principles” during recent trade negotiations.

Two weeks earlier, China had dumped cold water on President Donald Trump’s announcement of a “Phase 1” agreement.

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