The number of mortgages paid off in Colorado rose 22.8% in the first three quarters of this year when compared to 2011 levels, the Colorado Division of Housing said this week.

Public trustees in the state released 218,138 deeds of trust during the first three quarters, up from 177,585 a year earlier. A deed of trust is generally released by public trustees when a homeowner pays off their real estate loan either through a refinancing, a home sale or a final payment on the property.

In just the third quarter, deed releases jumped 54.4% over last year with 78,240 deeds released. That is up 20.2% from the second quarter when 65,090 deeds were released, indicating a home sale or refinancing activity.

"The 30-year mortgage rate was at a record low of 3.55% during the third quarter, and that has really helped push up refinance and purchase activity," said Ryan McMaken, an economist with the Colorado Division of Housing. "Home purchases have been held back somewhat by lack of inventory, but refis appear to be increasingly common in recent quarters."

Counties with higher incomes had more deeds released because it's much easier for those homeowners to obtain refinancing, McMaken said.