A full 80 percent of Freddie Mac-owned loans that were refinanced in the fourth quarter resulted in new mortgages with loan amounts that were at least 5 percent higher than the original mortgage balances, the mortgage giant reported today. This percentage is up from the third quarter of 2005, when the share of refinanced loans that took cash out was 73 percent, and is the highest since the third quarter of 2000. "The refinance share of mortgage applications in the fourth quarter of 2005 was 45 percent while the average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed 0.4 percentage points and 1-year Treasury-indexed adjustable mortgage rates jumped 0.6 percentage points from third-quarter averages," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "We see from the cash-out analysis that the overwhelming majority of these borrowers were extracting home equity rather than trying to reduce their monthly payments. One big reason that they are using the cash-out refinance...
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