Refi still king in the local mortgage loan world

Cash may be king in the home buying market, but in the mortgage world refinancing is like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps on going and going. Refinances accounted for 58.9% of all the loans secured by mortgages in the Tri-Cities during the first three months of this year.

Nationwide refi loan originations have more than doubled from last year. Locally the increase of the first three months of last year is well into triple digits.

There were 4,162 Tri-Cities mortgage secured residential properties during the first three months of this year. That’s a 10% increase from the previous quarter and a 54.9% increase from last year, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Residential Property Mortgage Origination Report.

The strongest year-over-year increase came in the three-county Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with a 68.1% increase. You have to go back to the second quarter of 2008 to see more mortgage-secured loans. The Q1 total was 1,974. Carter, Washington, and Unicoi counties make up the Johnson City MSA.

Kingsport-Bristol’s year-over-year increase was 44.6%. The 2,188 loans are the most since ATTOM began charting them for the Tri-Cities in the first quarter of 2004. Kingsport-Bristol includes Hawkins and Washington counties in NE TN and Scott and Washington counties in SW VA.

Refinancing continued the accelerated pace that began last year. Refi loans for both MSAs were at record levels. The regional total was 2,409 – the most since Q4 2010.

Refi activity was higher in the Johnson City MSA – 1,180 loan originations. It was up 135% over the same time last year.  The number of loans was slightly higher in the four-county Kingsport-Bristol MSA – 1,229, but the year-over-year change didn’t quite match Johnson City. It was up 109%. There were 2,409 refi-loans in the Tri-Cities region., up 121% from last year.

Purchase loans didn’t match the refi numbers, but the year-over-year increase was double-digit strong. The Johnson City MSA had 655 loan originations, up 56.7% from last year. Kingsport-Bristol purchase loans were up 30.5% and totaled 775.

“Homeowners lined up to refinance their loans in ever-growing numbers during the first quarter of 2021, making for a highly unusual quarterly increase in total lending activity for that time of year. The home-mortgage industry almost always slows down in Winter, but not this year because of so many homeowners hopping on super-low interest rates to reduce their monthly payments,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Eventually, the refi side of the lending business will ease up after enough homeowners get in on the good deals. But there’s no sign of that happening in the  near future – yet another indicator of how the housing market remains strong amid uncertain economic times connected to the pandemic.”

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