Homeowners Aren’t Tapping Into Record Equity Levels

August 29, 2019
counting money
Photo: Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Homeowners have access to a record amount of tappable equity, but most are not taking advantage of it, CNBC reports.

The collective amount of money borrowers could pull out of their homes, while still retaining 20% equity, hit a record $6.3 trillion in the second quarter of this year, according to a new reading from Black Knight, a mortgage data, technology and analytics company.

So-called tappable equity grew by more than $335 billion during the quarter. The total is 26% more than the mid-2006 peak of $5 trillion. Roughly 45 million mortgage holders have excess equity, and half of them have mortgage rates higher than 4.25%, making a refinance not only possible but attractive. The average rate on the 30-year fixed is now around 3.6%. The majority of these borrowers also have top credit scores.

Falling mortgage rates over the past several months have caused a surge in overall refinance activity, but despite the record housing wealth, homeowners have been highly conservative about taking cash out. In 2006, 89% of refinances were cash-out, according to Freddie Mac. In 2012, when home prices crashed, that share dropped to 12%. But even now, with prices back above their previous peak and mortgage rates much lower, cash-out refinances are just 61% of the total pool of refinances.

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