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Coronavirus fears push down interest rates, spurring home refinancing

Homeowners looking to lower the cost of their mortgages may have to wait a little longer as the race to refinance while interest rates are low has caused a backlog that is overwhelming lenders.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” says Gordon Miller, owner of Miller Lending Group, in Cary, N.C. who says the volume of calls to his business had quadrupled as of early March. “We’re getting lenders saying ‘No refinance today. Only purchases’ … I’ve been telling borrowers the industry is begging for a timeout.”

In recent weeks, as economic uncertainty about the coronavirus drove down interest rates, homeowners rushed to apply for mortgages not seen in over a decade.

During the first week of March, refinancing applications reached their highest level in nearly 11 years, and jumped 79% week over week, the largest leap since November 2008. Mortgage loan applications also spiked, reaching their highest number since April 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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