Mortgage originations push household debt to record high

by Ryan Smith14 Nov 2019

Household debt hit nearly $14 trillion in the third quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – a record high driven largely by an increase in mortgage loans.

US household debt hit $13.95 trillion in Q3, an increase of $92 billion from Q2. This marks the 21st consecutive quarter in which household debt has risen, and the total is now $1,3 trillion higher than the previous peak of $12.68 trillion in Q3 of 2008.

Mortgage balances – the largest component of household debt – were up by $31 billion in Q3 to a total of $9.44 trillion. Balances on home-equity lines of credit, which have been falling since 2009, dropped by $3 billion in Q3, bringing the aggregate outstanding balance to $396 billion.

Mortgage originations, including refinances, stood at $528 billion in Q3, up from $445 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Auto-loan originations also posted a small increase from Q2, hitting $159 billion.

“New credit extensions were strong in the third quarter of 2019, with auto-loan originations reaching near-record highs and mortgage originations increasing significantly year over year,” said Donghoon Lee, research officer at the New York Fed. “The data suggest that households are taking advantage of a low-interest-rate environment to secure credit.”