"Black Knight looked at the population of borrowers whose current interest rates -- as well as credit scores and loan-to-value ratios – mark them as good candidates for refinancing," said Trey Barnes, Black Knight's senior vice president of Loan Data Products. "In February 2014, there were approximately 4.1 million borrowers who could both benefit from and potentially qualify for refinancing their mortgages. Through a combination of declining interest rates and increased equity among borrowers driven by home price increases, an additional three million borrowers now meet the same broad-based eligibility criteria as compared to one year prior. As of the end of February 2015, there were a total of 7.1 million potential refinance candidates.
It was largely the decline of 60 basis points in the prevailing 30-year interest rate that resulted in the year-over-year increase in potential refinance candidates. “Likewise, if interest rates were to rise by just half a percentage point, three million borrowers would fall right back out of the running as far as benefiting from refinancing their mortgages. Another interesting finding from this analysis: prepayment speeds (historically a good indicator of refinance activity) of lower credit score borrowers – those with scores below 620 – are the lowest we've seen since starting to track this data in 2000. As a result, the average loan age for this group is 98 months, as compared to just 38 months and less for borrowers with credit scores of 750 and above," Barnes said.
The data from 2014 shows that traditional market sales outpaced 2013 levels, although overall real estate sales were down for the year due to a decrease in distressed transactions.
Nationally, just 12.7% of 2014 residential real estate transactions were distressed sales, the lowest such share since 2007; down from 17% the year before and a high of 33% in 2011.
Florida led the country in 2014 with 25% of all transactions in the state coming from distressed sales, and in fact, accounted for 26% of all distressed sales in the United States. Florida has also seen the lowest level of home price appreciation since the bottom of the market out of all the major "bubble" states (Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada).
However, Florida's REO sales discount of 24% (meaning REO properties sell for $0.76 on the traditional sale dollar), while deeper than the other "bubble" states' discounts, is still lower than the national average of nearly 27%.
In light of recent mortgage interest rate decreases, the population of potential refinance candidates currently sits at 7.1 million, according to new Black Knight Financial data, unless rates begin to climb.