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Nearly 86% of Mortgage Refinances Are Approved, and These States Have the Highest (and Lowest) Approval Rates

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Mortgage interest rates are currently at record lows. While not every homeowner is able to take full advantage of these low rates, many could reap significant savings by refinancing their home loans.

To find out how approval rates differ across the country, LendingTree delved into data from more than 15 million mortgage applications using the most recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data for 2019. LendingTree’s analysis reveals which states had the highest and lowest refi approval rates, based on two key variables: credit score and home-price appreciation.

Borrowers don’t always take advantage of refinancing despite the obvious financial benefits. For example, a borrower who took out a $300,000 loan five years ago in September 2015 at 3.91% could save about $300 per month on their payment and more than $15,000 in lifetime interest by refinancing at 2.87% now.

Some borrowers might be concerned about their chances of getting a refi approval, but according to LendingTree’s analysis, most applications are successful. Generally, borrowers with a decent amount of equity in their home and a solid credit score can expect a higher chance of approval.

Key findings

  • An average of about 86% of mortgage refinance applications are approved across the nation’s 50 states.
  • Home-price appreciation and credit scores matter. Ten-year, home-price appreciation and a borrower’s credit score correlate positively to the refinance approval rate. While there are exceptions and other factors to consider, this means that homeowners who have higher credit scores and whose homes have increased in value are more likely to be approved for a mortgage refinance.
  • 80% or more of refinance loans are approved in 48 of the nation’s 50 states. In no state does the approval rate fall below 78%. This is good news for potential refinancers, as it means their odds of approval are strong no matter what part of the country they live in.
  • South Dakota, along with three other states, have approval rates above 90%. An approval rate of 91.29% makes South Dakota No. 1 in LendingTree’s ranking. Utah, North Dakota and Nebraska are close behind with approval rates of 90.74%, 90.65%, and 90.53%, respectively.
  • Florida and New York are the states with the lowest approval rates. In Florida, 78.43% of refinance loans are approved, slightly lower than New York’s approval rate of 79.60%. Though these numbers are the lowest in LendingTree’s study, a significant majority of refinancers in both states are still approved.

States with the highest approval rates for mortgage refinance loans

No. 1: South Dakota

  • Approval rate: 91.29%
  • Median loan amount: $205,000
  • Average homebuyer credit score: 760
  • 10-year, home-price appreciation: 60%

No. 2: Utah

  • Approval rate: 90.74%
  • Median loan amount: $275,000
  • Average homebuyer credit score: 764
  • 10-year, home-price appreciation: 59%

No. 3: North Dakota

  • Approval rate: 90.65%
  • Median loan amount: $225,000
  • Average homebuyer credit score: 761
  • 10-year, home-price appreciation: 97%

States with the lowest approval rates for mortgage refinance loans

No. 1: Florida

  • Approval rate: 78.43%
  • Median loan amount: $225,000
  • Average homebuyer credit score: 747
  • 10-year, home-price appreciation: 16%

No. 2: New York

  • Approval rate: 79.60%
  • Median loan amount: $265,000
  • Average homebuyer credit score: 762
  • 10-year, home-price appreciation: 13%

No. 3: Connecticut

  • Approval rate: 80.82%
  • Median loan amount: $235,000
  • Average homebuyer credit score: 765
  • 10-year, home-price appreciation: -5%

 

Methodology

LendingTree looked at 2019 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data for all 50 states in the U.S. HMDA is a federal law that requires most lenders to report their origination activity every year. From this HMDA data, which represents more than 15 million mortgage application records, LendingTree determined the percentage of refinances that are approved in each state.

In addition to HMDA data, LendingTree also used data from the 2019 American Community Survey and TransUnion to determine home-price appreciation and borrowers’ average credit scores, respectively.

LendingTree research analyst Jacob Channel contributed to this report.

 

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