As a real estate agent, your business is swayed by falling mortgage rates and rising home values. It also could be an attractive option for homeowners who want to save money on their monthly mortgage payments. Millions of people are just saying no because they aren’t educated about the process.
According to a CNBC report, an estimated 4.5 million borrowers are eligible and can have a financial incentive to refinance, according to a new report from Black Knight Financial Services. According to the report, that is up from just under 3 million borrowers a few months ago when rates were higher. The report notes that the “refinanceable” population is at its highest level this year.
Lower mortgage rates are helping more homeowners refinance and reduce their monthly payments, but they are not providing much incentive to homebuyers according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). However, the average that can be saved is $260 a month, totaling more than $1 billion for the eligible borrowers. Lynn Fisher, the MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said mortgage applications to refinance have been rising over the past month, up about 9 percent.
“The recent pause in the upward movement of interest rates continues to encourage late-to-the-game borrowers to refinance.”
According to Black Knight, Q1 2017 refinance lending took the largest hit with a 45 percent overall drop over the previous quarter. Among those with credit scores of 740 and above, refinance volumes were cut in half. Why such a sharp drop? Opportunity may be the reason again. Interest rates have been at or near historic lows for years, and many people who could afford to take advantage of refinancing have already done so. Homeowners with high credit scores may be able to wait for temporary dips in interest rates and take the best deal possible over a wider timeframe. Ben Graboske, senior vice president of data and analytics at BKFS, pointed out that refinance applications are still below year-ago levels.
“Our data doesn’t tell us about motivation. It leaves us to surmise that the reason is apathy, lack of awareness and education.”
The industry already has seen millions of borrowers take advantage of record-low mortgage rates. Some remain underwater on their current loans and others have seen their credit scores take a hit and might not be able to jump on board. Graboske said those issues are on the decline as potential borrowers rebuild their credit and home values increase.
“I don’t think this will be the last opportunity, but I don’t have a crystal ball. There are enough pressures in the market — lenders getting more efficient — that we’re going to have competitive rates around for a while.”