NEW YORK (Reuters) - More homeowners prefer to pay off their mortgages sooner as interest rates have stayed near rock-bottom and weak labor conditions have caused them to reduce their debt loads, a survey showed on Monday.
The current trend in refinancing into shorter-loan terms is a stark contrast to the one during the height of the housing boom, when families were taking out bigger mortgages against the rising values of their homes.
Of those homeowners who refinanced a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage during the second quarter, 37 percent moved into a 15-year or 20-year fixed-rate loan. This is the highest since the third quarter of 2003, mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac FMCC.OB said.
In the second quarter, interest on the 30-year mortgage averaged 4.65 percent, compared with a 3.84 percent average on 15-year mortgages, the company said.
“It’s no wonder we continue to see strong refinance activity into fixed-rate loans,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said in a statement.
Refinancing has comprised the bulk of U.S. mortgage activity since the housing bust that led to the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.
During the second quarter, the refinance share of mortgage applications, versus the share of applications for loans to buy a home, averaged 70 percent, Freddie Mac said.
Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Dan Grebler