(CNBC) -- U.S. home owners are refinancing their mortgages at the fastest clip since 2005, but the difference now is they are putting cash in, not taking it out.
At the going rate, 25 percent of all first-lien U.S. mortgages will be refinanced this year, according to LPS Applied Analytics. That represents about $7.1 billion —just through June of this year — in savings on monthly payments, according to economists at Freddie Mac, who ran the numbers for this report.
Seven years ago, refinancing wasn’t about saving on monthly payments; it was about pulling cash out. Homeowners extracted close to a trillion dollars collectively in home equity in 2005 and largely put it toward home remodeling, swimming pools, cars, vacations and retail spending.
Today, 81 percent of homeowners refinancing their first-lien mortgages either kept the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance by paying-in additional money at closing, according to Freddie Mac.
“The net dollars of home equity converted to cash as part of a refinance, adjusted for consumer-price inflation, was at the lowest level in 17 years,” the Freddie report notes. Rather than build debt, they reduced it.
Refinances are surging this year, not just because interest rates are hitting new record lows but because the government is making severely underwater loans eligible for refinance.
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