Boom in US Home Purchases and Refinancing Leads to Growth in Mortgage Lending in 2020



Johnnel Martha

(Reuters) – Mortgage lending surged last year after the pandemic sparked a housing boom fueled by low interest rates and a shift to work from home, according to information released Thursday by the Federal Reserve.

The annual release of data under the Housing Mortgage Disclosure Act also showed that the share of home loans issued to black borrowers increased in the past year, while the share given to Hispanic and Asian borrowers declined slightly.

Mortgages increased by about 5.3 million in 2020 compared to 2019, up 67.1%. Refinancing of mortgage loans for real estate in which one to four families live increased by 150%, while home loans increased by 6.7%.

Black borrowers received 7.3% of home loans in 2020, up from 7.0% in 2019. The share of loans to white Hispanic borrowers fell slightly to 9.1% from 9.2%, while loans to Asian borrowers fell to 5.5% from 5.7%.

The share of home purchase loans issued to borrowers with low or middle income increased from 28.6% to 30.4%. The report is based on data provided by 4,475 banks, credit unions and other mortgage lenders.

The U.S. housing market fared better last year, despite the overall economy being wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic, which led to massive business shutdowns and left millions of Americans jobless. The demand for vacation homes has been particularly high, driven mainly by people who have switched to telecommuting and virtual learning.

However, rising house prices and a limited supply of homes on the market are holding back growth and forcing some forecasters to lower their forecasts for future home sales.

(Reporting by Jonnel Marthe; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)


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