Arvest Mortgage Co., a subsidiary of Bentonville-based Arvest Bank and the largest mortgage originator in the state, said it processed more than $548 million in new mortgage loans for purchases and refinancing — a 97% increase over last year.
The national Mortgage Bankers Association projected first quarter 2012 new mortgage originations to increase by 5% versus the previous year.
“Typically, first quarter is the slowest quarter for home buying and refinancing. However, low interest rates have enabled many homeowners to refinance their mortgages at near record low rates and encouraged others to purchase homes at a time of year when, typically, they have not,” said Todd White, Arvest Mortgage senior vice president.
White said the numbers reflect an improving real estate market. State home sales have improved in 2012, but not at the double-digit rate Arvest has seen.
For the first quarter of 2012, home sales in Arkansas’ four largest metro areas rose 4.37%.
“For our loan originations to have doubled, the overall real estate market has to be improved for both buyers and sellers. Our loan officers are certainly reporting a significant increase in activity with significantly more families buying homes and many more sellers being successful in finding buyers. While we can’t say definitively that the real estate slump is over, anytime the largest mortgage lender in the state practically doubles its business, you can sure bet that the market definitely improved.”
Arvest said its mix of refinances to purchase loans was 65% to 35%. Projections from the national Mortgage Bankers Association forecast a 76% to 24% refinance to purchase loan mix.
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