ATTOM Data Solutions, Irvine, Calif., reported a 5.5 percent increase in residential lending activity during the fourth quarter and a nearly 50 percent increase from a year ago to its highest level in nearly 14 years. The company’s quarterly U.S. Residential Property Mortgage Origination Report showed 3.51 million loans secured by residential property (1 to 4 units) originated in the fourth quarter. With interest rates remaining below 3 percent for most purchase and refinance loans, lenders issued $1.06 trillion worth of home loans in the fourth quarter, up 6 percent from the third quarter and 55 percent from a year ago, to the largest quarterly amount since at least 2000. The quarterly rate of increase in loans and dollar volume represented the largest gains during any fourth-quarter period since 2011. The report said lenders refinanced 2.23 million home loans in the fourth quarter, 12 percent more than in the third quarter and 71 percent higher than a year ago. ATTOM said homeowners taking advantage of low rates to roll over old mortgages into new ones continued to account for the majority of home loans in the fourth quarter. Those loans comprised 63 percent of all home loans, up from 60 percent in the third quarter and 55 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, home-purchase lending activity fell by 4 percent from the third to the fourth quarter. However, both of those declines were milder than usual for the fourth-quarter period of each year – a trend that Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM, said actually represented additional signs of strength for the lending industry, noting purchase lending usually drops more than 10 percent during the fourth quarter of each year.
Source: The Mortgage Bankers Association