Coloradans payoff mortgages at fast clip


The number of mortgage loans paid off in Colorado was up 22.8 percent during the first three quarters compared to the first nine months of last year, according to a report released today by the Colorado Division of Housing.

Activity soared by more than twice that much in the third quarter from a year earlier.

In the third quarter, releases of deeds of trust increased 54.4 percent to 78,240 from the 50,682 deeds released during the third quarter of 2011. Releases were up 20.2 percent from the second quarter of this year when there were 65,090 deeds released. The third quarter’s total was the highest quarterly total recorded since the fourth quarter of 2010.

 The report shows  Colorado public trustees released a total of 218,138 deeds of trust during the first three quarters of 2012, and there were 177,585 releases during the same period last year.

Typically, a release of a deed of trust occurs when a real estate loan is paid off whether through refinance, sale of property, or because the owner has made the final payment on the loan. Release activity rises as refinance and home-sale activity increases.

“The 30-year mortgage rate was at a record low of 3.55 percent during the third quarter, and that has really helped push up refinance and purchase activity,” said Ryan McMaken, an economist with the Colorado Division of Housing. “Home purchases have been held back somewhat by lack of inventory, but refis appear to be increasingly common in recent quarters.”

McMaken said that release activity has increased year-over-year for the past four quarters, reflecting six quarters of declines in the 30-year conventional mortgage rate, and as growing demand for real estate in Colorado has slowly driven up prices.

Trends in release activity were not uniform across the state, although all of the 21 counties surveyed for the study reported increases in release activity from the third quarter of last year to the same period this year. The largest increases were reported in Douglas and Jefferson counties where release activity increased 73.2 percent and 71.5 percent, respectively. The smallest increases were in Teller and Fremont counties where releases increased 11.5 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.

Adjusted for the number of existing housing units in each county, the counties with the highest rates of release activity were Douglas, Summit and Boulder counties. The counties with the least activity were Pueblo, Fremont and Delta counties.

We see that the counties with the most release activity tend to have higher incomes and are particularly popular places to live,” McMaken said. “It’s easier to refinance a loan in places like that, but even the lower-income counties are showing increases in release activity, which shows that the trend is widespread.”

Totals for releases of deeds of trust are collected quarterly by the Colorado Division of Housing. This report tracks releases of deeds of trust as reported by public trustees in Colorado. The report includes 21 counties which are chosen based on population size and to ensure that as many regions of the state as possible are represented. More than 90 percent of all occupied households in Colorado are within the twenty-one counties chosen.

A deed of trust is similar to a mortgage and is a lien on real property to secure payment of an indebtedness. The deed of trust contains a grant of the property to the public trustee for the benefit of the holder. The deed of trust is released when the debt is paid in full. The full report is available on the Colorado Division of Housing blog

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.


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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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