With interest rates still low, mortgage refinancing remained very strong in the fourth quarter of 2016. In fact, more people refinanced their mortgages in the final three months of the year than committed to purchase loans.
Lenders issued more than 883,000 mortgage refinance loans in the fourth quarter of last year. That's an increase of more than 20 percent from the previous year. Altogether, there were 3.36 million refinancings last year, up 4 percent from 2015.
Meanwhile, just 595,000 mortgage loans for home purchases were originated in the fourth quarter. That's down 12 percent from the year-earlier period.