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Ellie Mae: Older Millennials Drove Refinance Surge In February

According to the latest Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker, refinance activity among millennials surged in February as interest rates dropped to near-record lows. Refinance share – the percentage of all loans closed during the month that were refinances – decreased month-over-month in both November and December 2019, before seeing month-over-month growth in both January and February 2020.

This February, the average interest rate on all closed loans to millennial borrowers dropped to 3.86%, down from 3.94% the month prior. Millennials have not seen an average rate this low since November 2016 and took advantage of the opportunity by refinancing and securing more favorable rates for their mortgages. The refinance share for all closed loans to millennial homeowners in February was 34%, tied for the highest share since Ellie Mae began tracking this data in 2016. For Conventional loans, which represented 75% of all loans closed by this group for the month, refinance share shot up to 41% as average rates for this loan type lowered month-over-month from 3.98% to 3.86%.

The Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker now divides millennials into two groups: older millennials – borrowers between 30 and 40 years old, and younger millennials – borrowers between 21 and 29 years old. Older millennials were the driving force behind the refinance surge in February, as 41% of all loans closed by this group were for refinances, compared to just 18% for younger millennials. For younger millennials, the average interest rate on all loans decreased from 3.9% to 3.83% month-over-month. For older millennials, this figure dropped from 3.95% to 3.85%.

“Economic impacts due to coronavirus (COVID-19) played a role in lowering interest rates in February and millennial homeowners were quick to take advantage and refinance their mortgages,” said Joe Tyrrell, chief operating officer at Ellie Mae. “While rates are currently favorable for consumers, we’re closely monitoring how COVID-19, and the resulting rate cut from the Federal Reserve, will impact every step of the homebuying and refinancing process and, in turn, the mortgage finance industry. Lenders who have invested in the requisite technology will be better positioned to work with buyers and owners who are increasingly interested in taking these processes virtual.”

Despite the increased focus on refinances, time-to-close for this loan purpose saw a significant drop, decreasing 12 days month-over-month, from 50 to 38 days on average. Time-to-close for all loans closed by millennials in February dropped from 47 to 41 days on average.