15 Cities Where Homeowners Are Most Likely to Refinance Their Mortgage

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Construction Coverage.

As mortgage interest rates inch up, mortgage refinancing applications are dropping. This comes after refinancing exploded in 2020 during the pandemic when interest rates reached record lows. According to the most recent loan-level mortgage data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, there were about 3.1 million mortgage refinances approved in 2019 — a number ultimately projected to be much higher in 2020 and 2021.

Most commonly, mortgage refinancing allows a homeowner to replace their existing loan with a new loan at a lower interest rate. Certain types of refinancing agreements also enable the homeowner to receive cash in exchange for accrued home equity. In 2019, about 40% of refinances were cash-out and the overall approval rate was 81%. The most common reason for refinancing denials was a high debt-to-income ratio, cited in nearly 38% of refinancing applications. Credit history was the second most common reason for refinancing denials, mentioned in almost one in four denials.

The proportion of households that refinance their mortgage varies considerably across regions of the country. In the U.S. overall, there were 64 mortgage refinances approved per 1,000 households with mortgages in 2019. Refinancing is much more common in the Western U.S. where home prices have appreciated rapidly over the past decade. Out of all 50 states, Utah had the most per capita mortgage refinances, at 128 refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage. At just 32 refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage, Alaska had the fewest.

Large Metros With the Most Mortgage Refinances

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To find the metropolitan areas with the most mortgage refinances, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the U.S. Census Bureau, and Zillow. The researchers ranked metros according to the number of mortgage refinance approvals per 1,000 households with a mortgage. In the event of a tie, the metro with the larger number of mortgage refinance approvals was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated the median loan amount, the share of all refinances that are cash-out, the mortgage refinance approval rate, and the 10-year change in average home prices.

The following are the large U.S. metropolitan areas (population of 1 million or more) with the most mortgage refinances.

15. Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 81
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 14,625
  • Median loan amount: $145,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 39.6%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 86.6%
  • 10-year change in home price: 61.6%

14. Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 86
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 21,437
  • Median loan amount: $175,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 36.7%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 85.6%
  • 10-year change in home price: 16.7%

13. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

Las Vegas homes
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 88
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 26,843
  • Median loan amount: $225,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 45.3%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 79.7%
  • 10-year change in home price: 67.5%

12. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 89
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 70,881
  • Median loan amount: $325,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 35.8%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 84.0%
  • 10-year change in home price: 39.3%

11. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Portland skyline
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 90
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 37,888
  • Median loan amount: $285,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 44.4%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 86.2%
  • 10-year change in home price: 52.3%

10. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 92
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 57,305
  • Median loan amount: $295,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 46.8%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 81.1%
  • 10-year change in home price: 79.1%
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9. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle skyline
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 100
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 66,061
  • Median loan amount: $345,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 38.0%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 85.7%
  • 10-year change in home price: 55.1%

8. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

Phoenix, Arizona
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 103
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 78,101
  • Median loan amount: $235,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 40.3%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 85.5%
  • 10-year change in home price: 61.7%

7. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

The streets of Los Angeles, where median rent is relatively low
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 118
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 173,148
  • Median loan amount: $435,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 42.1%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 82.5%
  • 10-year change in home price: 55.5%

6. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 118
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 50,555
  • Median loan amount: $415,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 39.6%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 83.8%
  • 10-year change in home price: 57.2%

5. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA

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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 119
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 42,868
  • Median loan amount: $305,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 42.2%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 85.4%
  • 10-year change in home price: 60.9%

4. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Denver, Colorado
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 123
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 68,237
  • Median loan amount: $305,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 44.3%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 85.8%
  • 10-year change in home price: 80.7%

3. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 130
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 26,027
  • Median loan amount: $255,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 41.9%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 86.1%
  • 10-year change in home price: 53.8%

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

Homes in San Francisco, California
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 132
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 85,818
  • Median loan amount: $515,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 35.9%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 84.4%
  • 10-year change in home price: 89.8%

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

San Jose California
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  • Mortgage refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage: 143
  • Total annual mortgage refinances: 35,413
  • Median loan amount: $595,000
  • Share of all refinances that are cash-out: 31.1%
  • Mortgage refinance approval rate: 84.5%
  • 10-year change in home price: 88.2%

Detailed Findings & Methodology

homeowners
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The majority of the large metros with the most mortgage refinances are located in the western part of the country, with many in California. The San Jose metro, which has the most per capita refinances out of all large metros, had 143 refinances per 1,000 households with a mortgage, over double the national rate of 64. The San Francisco metro was close behind with 132 refinances per 1,000 mortgage-holding households. These metros also tended to have high refinance-approval rates, averaging over 84%. The median loan amount varied substantially, from $145,000 in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, metro area to nearly $600,000 in San Jose.

There’s a strong relationship between home price appreciation and mortgage refinancing rates. Metros with large 10-year changes in average home prices tend to have more mortgage refinances per capita. Due to increases in home value, homeowners in these metros have more equity in their homes, making refinancing an attractive option.

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