According to its Mortgage Monitor Report, Black Knight found that 42 percent or 300,000 of all first lien refinances in the 2015 third quarter involved taking cash out of borrowers’ equity, the highest share in 8 years. On average, cash-out borrowers took out an average of $60,000, the greatest average sum since 2007.
For all of 2015, there were about 1 million cash-out refinances, totaling roughly $64 billion in tapped equity, another 8-year record. Yet even though more people are feeling confident enough to pull money out of their homes again, they are still be cautious. Black Knight reported that less than 2 percent of all available equity was tapped last year, a percentage that is still below the “post-crisis norm and 80 percent below the equity pulled out during the peak housing bubble years of 2005- 2006. The average cash-out refi borrower has a very high credit score of 748 and they are still leaving a lot of equity in their homes. The average loan-to-value (LTV) ratio for borrowers after tapping their equity in 2015 was 67 percent, the lowest ratio to date.
Separate data revealed that home affordability remains good by historical averages. “The data shows that it currently takes 21 percent of the median monthly household income to purchase the national median-priced home using a 30-year fixed rate mortgage,” said Black Knight Data & Analytics Senior Vice President Ben Graboske. “That’s down significantly from 33 percent back at the top of the market in 2006, and is still below the average of 26 percent we saw in the more stable years before the housing bubble.”
Graboske warned that affordability could go down soon though as home prices continue to appreciate and mortgage interest rates start an upward climb. “Right now, both Hawaii and Washington D.C. are already less affordable than they were during the pre-bubble era,” he commented.” And within two years, if prices continue to grow and rate rise by at least 50 basis points, another 8 states would be less affordable than before the bubble within 12 months.
There is some reason to believe home prices will not continue to appreciate at their current rate. As rates rise, many buyers will be priced out of the market unless prices make a slower climb.