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Mortgage industry posts strong first quarter

The home mortgage business boomed in the first quarter on a mini-refinancing boom sparked by lower interest rates, the credit tracking company Equifax reported Tuesday.

Originations reached $466 billion, up 74 percent compared to the first quarter in 2014, the company said.

“The drop in mortgage rates that began in the fourth quarter of last year kicked off a refinance boomlet that accelerated in the first quarter, as rates fell further, averaging just 3.7 percent for the first three months of this year,” said Amy Crews Cutts, chief economist for Equifax, in a news release.

Cutts noted that rates have ticked back up to over 4 percent, but remain low historically.

“These rates, coupled with a housing market that is showing signs of vigor, should carry the mortgage business over the summer.”

Equifax also said that lending standards remain “very tight,” and just 4.5 percent of new first mortgages went to subprime borrowers with credit scores below 620. That compares to over 10 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) also jumped 30 percent year over year to nearly $31 billion in the first quarter.     



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