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Black Knight Reports Tappable Home Equity Rises to Record $6.5 Trillion

Today, the Data & Analytics division of Black Knight, Inc. released its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, based upon the company’s industry-leading mortgage performance, housing and public records datasets.

As Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske explained, despite record-low interest rates and record-high levels of tappable equity – the amount available to homeowners with mortgages to borrow against before reaching a maximum combined loan-to-value ratio of 80% – both the number of cash-out refinances and the volume of equity withdrawn via such loans fell in Q1 2020.

“Tappable equity rose by 8% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020 to a record high of $6.5 trillion,” said Graboske. “What’s more, with mortgage interest rates hitting record lows, 90% of homeowners with tappable equity now have first lien rates above the prevailing market average.

But while Q1 2020 saw overall refinance lending climb to a 7-year high, the number of cash-out refinances, as well as the dollar value of equity withdrawn via refinance, fell for the first time since early 2019.

All in, cash-outs accounted for just 42% of refinance loans in the first quarter, roughly half of what was seen at the recent high in Q4 2018 and the lowest such share since Q1 2016.

Likewise, the $38.7 billion in equity withdrawn from the market via cash-out refinances was down 8% from the prior quarter. Further, rate lock data – a good indicator of lending activity – suggests the trend is likely to continue, as the cash-out share of refinance activity has continued to fall throughout the second quarter.

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