Refinance Activity Reaches Historic High

According to the latest Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker, refinance activity reached an all-time high in March 2020 for millennial borrowers as interest rates plummeted. Refinance share – the percentage of all loans closed during the month that were refinances – increased for the third consecutive month and reached the highest mark since Ellie Mae began tracking this data in 2016.

The refinance share for all millennials in March was 38%, up four percentage points from February. Following an ongoing trend, refinance share increased as interest rates declined. The average interest rate for all 30-year loans closed by millennials in March was 3.66%, the lowest average rate since May 2016 and down from 3.86% in February.

Despite the uptick in refinance activity, average time to close for refinance loans fell two days month-over-month, from 38 to 36. Average time to close for all loans dropped from 41 to 39 days during the same time period. 

“The Federal Reserve cut its target interest rate to near-zero in March, causing interest rates to drop and giving savvy millennial homeowners the opportunity to refinance to more favorable rates,” said Joe Tyrrell, Chief Operating Officer at Ellie Mae. “That pattern follows a trend we’ve seen in our data over the last 12 months, but what’s more surprising is time to close numbers decreasing despite the surge in refinance activity and the limitations lenders are facing as a result of COVID-19. Technology is now more important than ever and lenders investing in the solutions necessary to manage their pipelines virtually are seeing success.”

The Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker divides millennials into two groups: older millennials – borrowers between 30 and 40 years old, and younger millennials – borrowers between 21 and 29 years old.

Refinance share for older millennials in March was 46%, up 5% month-over-month and more than double the refinance share of younger millennials, which was 21%. Average interest rates for the two groups were both 3.66%, though younger millennials were more likely to opt for non-Conventional loan types. In March, 27% of all loans closed by younger millennials were FHA loans compared to 16% for older millennials.  

“Educating millennials on the various loan types available is a priority for lenders and seeing younger millennials securing FHA loans is a sign that lenders are making progress on this front,” said Tyrrell. “FHA loans tend to be a great option for younger borrowers as they require a smaller down payment and have more flexible credit requirements than Conventional loans.”