NEW YORK – Feb. 19, 2016 – A report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that Americans paid 8 percent less on their mortgages in 2015 than they did in 2008, even as the amount of principal paid off rose by 41 percent.
This means homeowners paid less each month on their mortgage while also seeing a dramatic rise in home equity.
“That’s a major increase in savings, and a major improvement in the balance sheets for these households,” says Andrew Haughwout, a senior vice president at the New York Fed.
According to the report, the amount of mortgage principal paid down by homeowners totaled $288 billion last year, up by $118 billion from 2006, although the total amount of mortgage debt outstanding was the same in both years. That can be attributed to low borrowing costs that prompted more homeowners to refinance into less expensive loans, and borrowers taking less equity out of their homes than they did a decade ago. In addition, outstanding mortgage debt is older today, so a greater share of the monthly payment is put toward paying down the principal.
The report also indicates that tighter mortgage standards have played a role by preventing many first-time buyers from achieving homeownership, which means borrowers who have had more time to build equity account for a greater share of total mortgage debt.
Finally, there is a smaller pool of highly leveraged homeowners due to the wave of foreclosures during and after the financial crisis.
Source: American Banker (02/12/16) Wack, Kevin
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