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MCLEAN, Va. – Freddie Mac’s quarterly refinance review released earlier this month by the housing Government-Sponsored Enterprise showed that in the first quarter of 2004, 43% of Freddie Mac-owned loans that were refinanced resulted in new mortgages at least 5% higher in amount than the original mortgages. That compares to the fourth quarter of 2003 when a downwardly adjusted 44% of refinanced loans had higher new loan amounts. During the second quarter of 2003 when fixed-rate mortgage rates were still falling, 33% of refinanced loans were for cash out and the number of loans being refinanced was much higher. Freddie Mac expects “slightly higher” mortgage rates in the second quarter will reduce refinance activity, “but with 30-year, fixed mortgage rates hovering near the very affordable 6% level, the housing market should have a great year, perhaps exceeding 2003′s record level of home sales.” According to Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft, “With mortgage rates above the 46-year low of last June, the refinance volume is less than last summer’s. The share of cash-out refis tends to rise when overall refinancing activity slows down because fewer borrowers find it economical to refinance their mortgages simply for a lower rate, but the cash-out alternative may be a very affordable option.”

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