More than four out of five refinances included cashout during the latest quarter.
The share of cashouts on refinance loans acquired by Freddie Mac during the first quarter was 82 percent, according the secondary lender's first quarter refinance review. The figure was unchanged from revised fourth quarter figures while it trailed the 86 percent reported for a year earlier.
In dollars, $70.5 billion was cashed out in the latest quarter, the McLean, Va.-based company reported.
Freddie defines cashout as a refinance where the balance increased by at least 5 percent.
Low fixed rates helped steer borrowers away from home equity loans into cashout refinances, Frank Nothaft, Freddie's chief economist, said in the announcement.
"Cashout refinance volume is expected to decline over 2007, due to an expected 6 percent reduction in overall mortgage origination activity and a fall in the refinance share of originations to around 44 percent for the year," Freddie economist Amy Crews Cutts said in the statement.
Freddie reported refinance activity accounted for 46 percent of its first quarter business, while refinances represented 43 percent of all applications tracked in the Mortgage Bankers Association's latest weekly survey.
"One-half of those borrowers who paid off their original loan and took out a new one increased their mortgage coupon rate by ... roughly three-eighths of a percentage point at today's level of fixed mortgage rates," according to the government-sponsored housing enterprise.
Freddie noted that as of last September, there were about $170 billion in prime adjustable-rate mortgages scheduled for interest rate adjustments this year. The figure has dropped to $30 billion as of March.