Home loan demand falls to lowest level this year
By Julie Haviv, Reuters
NEW YORK — Mortgage applications fell last week to their lowest level this year despite a drop in interest rates, an industry trade group said Wednesday.
The Mortgage Bankers Association says its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity for the week ended March 17 fell 1.6% to 565.0, its lowest level this year, from the previous week's 574.4.
Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 6.31%, down 0.11 percentage point from the previous week's 6.42%, near a four-year peak.
Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were substantially above the 2005 low of 5.47% in late June and close to last year's high of 6.33% the week of Nov. 11.
Historically low mortgage rates have fueled a five-year housing boom. But despite last week's rate drop, most analysts say mortgage rates are on the rise. While they may differ on whether or not there is a housing bubble, most agree the market is now cooling.
Fixed 15-year mortgage rates averaged 5.99%, down from 6.06% the previous week. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) increased to 5.68% from 5.64%.
The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications also slid, down 0.6% to 1,574.5 compared with 1,583.6 the previous week. A year earlier the index stood at 1,894.4.
The MBA's seasonally adjusted purchase mortgage index dropped 2.3% to 393.6 from the previous week's 403.0. The index was only a few points above its two-year low of 391.7 reached the week ended Feb. 10.
The index, considered a timely gauge of U.S. home sales, was also below its year-ago level of 446.4.
The MBA's survey covers about 50% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage originations. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.
- Min. $2,500 debt
- 2 or more accounts.
- A source of income.