(Bloomberg) -- Mortgage prepayment rates have soared to the highest in seven years as homeowners take advantage of the lowest borrowing costs on record to refinance.
Home loans were repaid in August at a pace that would erase 25 percent of the debt in a year, according to Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS), a Jacksonville, Florida-based data provider that tracks 40 million mortgages.
The cost of 30-year loans dropped to 3.4 percent last week, helping push refinancing applications to a three-year high, after the Federal Reserve said it will buy $40 billion of mortgage securities per month to stimulate the economy. That followed government efforts to increase refinancing with new rules designed to expand eligibility and reduce costs.
“There should be a lot of opportunity for people to refinance,” Herb Blecher, senior vice president at LPS Applied Analytics said in an interview. “The interest rate environment is favorable even for folks who refinanced recently to get a new loan.”
Prepayment speeds also reflect borrower defaults and debt retired in home sales, which increased in August to a two-year high as the housing market showed signs of recovery.
Refinancing applications climbed almost 20 percent last week to the highest since April 2009, leaving this year’s average pace 56 percent greater than in 2011, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association index released today.
Borrowing costs for typical 30-year fixed-rate loans have declined from last year’s high of 5.05 percent, according to Freddie Mac surveys. That’s spurred a wave of repeat refinancing activity. Prepayment speeds in August rose the most among loans made last year, climbing 23 percent, LPS data show.