In the first quarter of 2017, nearly half of refinance borrowers took cash out, up from 44 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Freddie Mac. This is the highest share since the fourth quarter of 2008, but still below the peak of 89 percent in the third quarter of 2006.
Rising home prices have helped increase the number of homeowners who now have equity in their homes. As such, more owners are finding they can refinance to get a lower mortgage rate and also take out some cash for other uses. In hot markets like Denver and Dallas, in which home prices have surged by some of the highest amounts in the country, more than half of refinancers opted to refinance for cash last year, according to Freddie Mac.
“Despite weak economic growth, housing got off to a good start in 2017 because low mortgage rates have given the spring homebuying season a pleasant surprise. Mortgage rates started March just above four percent and have mostly drifted lower since then, even falling below 4 percent. With home sales, housing starts and home values up, 2017 is shaping up to be the best year for housing in over a decade,” said Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.