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Mortgage applications fall 11% last week

1:32 AM
Mortgage applications fall 11% last week

Fewer people are applying for home loans despite low interest rates as refinancing activity wanes.

Applications for home loans fell nearly 11% last week despite low interest rates, with refinancing activity apparently running out of steam, the Mortgage Bankers Assn. said in a report Wednesday.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, purchase-loan applications decreased 3.3% from the week before while refinancing applications fell 15.1%.

This occurred despite no significant change in rates, according to the trade group. It calculated that the average rate was 5.02% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, compared with 5% a week earlier. Average upfront fees known as points, including origination fees, dropped to 1% of the loan amount from 1.05%.

The survey looked at loans to borrowers who had good credit and a down payment of at least 20% or home equity of at least that amount.

"Although rates remain low, there appears to be a smaller pool of borrowers who are willing and able to refinance," said Michael Fratantoni, the banker association's vice president of research.

Together with a Commerce Department report showing that new-home sales fell unexpectedly in December for the second month in a row, the slowing mortgage applications were fodder for those who believe housing, despite massive government support programs, will recover only slowly.

"We experienced a once-in-a-lifetime housing bubble, not a traditional expansion," said Mike Larson, a mortgage and real estate analyst at Weiss Research. "That means we shouldn't expect a traditional, vigorous, cyclical recovery."

Source: By E. Scott Reckard

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