Home loan demand ticks up a bit

Posted on February 09 By MLP Blog

NEW YORK — Mortgage applications rose for a second week as demand for home purchase loans outweighed slower refinancing activity, an industry trade group said Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association says its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and purchasing loans, increased 0.6% to 657.2 the week ended April 27 .

The four-week moving average of mortgage applications, which smooths the volatile weekly figures, was up 0.3%.

U.S. housing industry indexes, in general, tend to be volatile. Recently, they have painted a mixed picture, with some pointing to weakening and others to stabilization in the hard-hit sector.

On Tuesday, data from the National Association of Realtors showed pending sales of existing homes in March fell more than expected to its lowest level in four years as the decline in subprime lending took its toll on activity.

The MBA’s seasonally adjusted purchase index, widely considered a timely gauge of U.S. home sales, rose 4.0% to 427.3, its highest level since the week ended Jan. 12, but the index was below its year-ago level of 433.3.

The group’s seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 3.2% to 2,015.8. A year earlier the index stood at 1,565.6.

Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 6.14%, up 0.01 percentage point from the previous week. Interest rates, however, were significantly below the year-ago average of 6.57%.

The refinance share of applications fell to 41.5% from 43.4% the previous week.

Fixed 15-year mortgage rates averaged 5.83%, up from 5.82%. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were unchanged at 5.79%.

The ARM share of activity decreased to 17.9% from 18.3% the previous week.

The MBA’s survey covers about half of retail residential loans. Respondents include mortgage banks, commercial banks and thrifts.

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