Freddie Mac's total mortgage portfolio ended 2014 on a strong note with its highest annualized growth rate for a single month in five years, according to the enterprise's December 2014 Monthly Volume Summary released Thursday.
The mortgage portfolio expanded at an annualized growth rate of 4.5 percent – an increase of $7.14 billion – up to an estimated $1.91o trillion in December. It was the highest annualized growth rate for any one month seen in Freddie Mac's portfolio since December 2009, when it grew by 5.7 percent. The portfolio has expanded for four months in a row and five out of the last six after contracting for six straight months to begin 2014. From January 2010 until September 2014, when the current four-month expansion string began, the portfolio contracted in 48 out of 56 months.
The growth of Freddie Mac's total mortgage portfolio in December fell right in line with the findings of the enterprise's multi-indicator market index released earlier this week, which reported the mortgage industry was headed toward stability with 34 states showing a three-month improvement trend. The index found that 15 of those 34 states are now on "solid ground."
December's substantial gain for the total mortgage portfolio was still not enough to bring the year-to-date annualized growth rate into the positive, however – for the 12 months combined, it was -0.2 percent. Year-to-date, the dollar value of Freddie Mac's mortgage portfolio has declined by about $4.55 billion, down from $1.914 trillion at the end of 2013.
Driven by higher loan purchases, Freddie Mac's mortgage-related investments portfolio jumped by $6 billion from November to December up to $408 billion, according to spokesman Tom Fitzgerald. December was only the second month of the year in which the mortgage-related investments portfolio increased month-over-month. The portfolio ended 2013 at $461 billion.
The single-family serious delinquency rate declined to its lowest level since January 2009, according to Freddie Mac. In December, 1.88 percent of all single-family mortgage loans backed by Freddie Mac were seriously delinquent, compared to 1.91 percent in November. Freddie Mac's seriously delinquent rate of 1.88 percent is less than half the national average, which was reported at 4.0 percent for November, according to CoreLogic's November 2014 National Foreclosure Report.
"This is good news, meaning that fewer and fewer homeowners with mortgages backed by Freddie Mac are 90 days past due on their mortgage payments or in foreclosure," Freddie Mac said on its blog. "Keeping families in their homes continues to be a top priority for Freddie Mac and we exhaust every workout option to do so. We have helped more than one million struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure since the crisis."
The number of homeowners who received permanent loan modifications also increased month-over-month. The total number was 5,371 in December, compared to 4,518 in November. The total of loan modifications completed for the entire year of 2014 was 67,152, or an average of 5,596 per month.
Single-family refinance loan volume also increased substantially month-over-month, totaling $13.1 billion in December (56 percent of total volume) compared to $10.7 billion in November (48 percent of total volume).