From Bloomberg Businessweek:
Nearly 80 percent of all mortgage applications are for refinancing now, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, a near-record level. Why is the figure so high? Two reasons. First, demand for refinancings is up because homeowners want to take advantage of the historic low interest rates to reduce their monthly payments. Second, there are still very few new purchases as the housing market tries to recover. “When rates go down, it doesn’t spur homebuying, it spurs refinancing,” says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance.
The Mortgage Bankers Association says nearly 30 percent of refinancings are part of the federal program HARP 2.0, designed to let borrowers who are current on their mortgages refi even if they owe more than their home is worth. Under HARP 2.0, borrowers don’t have to go through a new application process if they refinance with the bank that already services the mortgage, and if the loan is guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, explains Cecala.
Lenders have an added incentive to offer refinancings to existing customers…