Deed releases reflect higher loan activity

A measure of refinancing and real estate sales dipped in Mesa County during the first quarter, but remains well above the same period last year.

According to the latest information from the Colorado Division of Housing, the Mesa County public trustee’s office released 2,569 deeds of trust during the first quarter of 2013.

That number constitutes a nearly 6 percent decrease from the fourth quarter of 2012, but more than a 37 percent increase from the first quarter of 2012.

A deed of trust is released when a real estate loan is paid off, whether through refinancing, sale of the property or final payment on a mortgage. The majority of deed releases occur as a result of refinancing or sales.

The release of deeds of trust offers an indicator of real estate activity in reflecting refinancing and home purchases.

Expressed as a ratio of the number of deed releases divided by the number of occupied households, Mesa County ranked near the middle of 21 Colorado counties for which first quarter numbers were reported.

Mesa County reported four deed releases per 100 households. Delta County ranked lowest in the latest listing with 2.6 deed releases per 100 households.

By comparison, Douglas County ranked first among the 21 counties with 8.3 deed releases per 100 households.

On an annual basis, deed releases increased in Mesa County in 2012 to 7,853, ending a five-year streak of declines.

Deed releases peaked in Mesa County at 19,134 in 2003, but still topped 14,000 each year through 2008. The number of deed releases dropped from 12,648 in 2009 to 6,315 in 2011.

Deed releases for the 21 counties during the first quarter of 2013 totalled 98,321, a more than 31 percent increase over the first quarter of 2012 and the highest number recorded since the Division of Housing began collecting data in 2008.

“From early 2011 to late 2012, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell for seven quarters in a row. We’re not surprised to see refi and purchase activity increase sharply as a result,” said Ryan McMaken, an economist with the Division of Housing.

While deed releases increased on a year-over-year basis in all 21 counties during the first quarter of 2013, proportional gains varied from 62 percent in Adams County to 3.7 percent in Eagle County.

“We still see some some hot spots in higher-income counties,” McMaken said. “But with most counties reporting sizable increases in release activity, we can say that home loan activity has been increasing generally across Colorado.”