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85 Percent of Refinancing Homeowners Maintain or Reduce Mortgage Debt in Fourth Quarter: 26-Year High

MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 2, 2012 -- Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) released the results of its fourth quarter refinance analysis showing homeowners who refinance continue to strengthen their fiscal house. This release of the report also contains annual statistics on refinances for the ten largest metropolitan areas and four Census regions of the U.S. 

News Facts

  • In the fourth quarter of 2011, 85 percent of homeowners who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage either maintained about the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance by paying-in additional money at the closing table, a 26-year high. Of these borrowers, 37 percent maintained about the same loan amount, and 49 percent of refinancing homeowners reduced their principal balance; this latter percentage reflecting "cash-in" borrowers was the highest in the 26-year history of the analysis.
  • "Cash-out" borrowers, those that increased their loan balance by at least five percent, represented 15 percent of all refinance loans, the lowest percentage in the 26 years of analysis; the average cash-out share during the 1985 to 2010 period was 46 percent.
  • The median interest rate reduction for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was about 1.4 percentage points, or a savings of about 26 percent in interest rate. Over the first year of the refinance loan life, the median borrower will save about $2,700 in interest payments on a $200,000 loan.
  • The net dollars of home equity converted to cash as part of a refinance, adjusted for inflation, was at the lowest level in 16 years (since the third quarter of 1995). In the fourth quarter, an estimated $5.5 billion in net home equity was cashed out during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, down from $5.6 billion in the third quarter and substantially less than during the peak cash-out refinance volume of $83.7 billion during the second quarter of 2006.
  • Among the refinanced loans in Freddie Mac's analysis, the median value change of the collateral property was a negative 4 percent over the median prior loan life of almost four years. In comparison, the Freddie Mac House Price Index shows about a 23 percent decline in its U.S. series between September 2007 and September 2011. Thus, borrowers who refinanced in the fourth quarter owned homes that had held their value better than the average home, or may reflect value-enhancing improvements that owners had made to their homes during the intervening years.
  • Of the ten largest metropolitan areas, the share of "cash-out" borrowers has fallen in all areas, with Detroit and Miami experiencing the largest declines. The "cash-in" share was up sharply in the U.S. and in all ten large metropolitan areas. Median house values on refinance loans have declined in all ten areas, with the sharpest declines in Detroit and Miami.


Attributed to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist:

  • "The typical borrower who refinanced reduced their interest rate by about 1.4 percentage points. On a $200,000 loan, that translates into saving $2,700 in interest during the next 12 months.
  • "Savvy homeowners are taking advantage of some of the lowest fixed-rates in more than 60 years to lock in interest savings. Fixed-rate mortgage rates hit new lows during December, with 30-year product averaging 3.96 percent and 15-year averaging 3.25 percent that month, according to our Primary Mortgage Market Survey."

Get the latest information from Freddie Mac's Office of the Chief Economist on Twitter:@FreddieMac

Cash-out Refinance Analyses Information

These estimates come from a sample of properties on which Freddie Mac has funded two successive conventional, first-mortgage loans, and the latest loan is for refinance rather than for purchase. The analysis does not track the use of funds made available from these refinances. The analysis also does not track loans paid off in entirety, with no new loan placed.

Related Links

Current and Previous Cash-Out Refinance information

Freddie Mac House Price Index (FMHPI (SM))

Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS®)

Average Mortgage Rate Outstanding

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Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation's residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Over the years, Freddie Mac has made home possible for one in six homebuyers and more than five million renters. For more information, visit

SOURCE Freddie Mac

For further information: CONTACT: Chad Wandler, +1-703-903-2446,

The financial and other information contained in the documents that may be accessed on this page speaks only as of the date of those documents. The information could be out of date and no longer accurate. Freddie Mac does not undertake an obligation, and disclaims any duty, to update any of the information in those documents. Freddie Mac's future performance, including financial performance, is subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect the company's future results are discussed more fully in our reports filed with the SEC.

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