Mortgage Applications Plunge 37% as Refinancings Rise

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Mortgage loan applications see a 37% drop as refinancing becomes more popularIt's time to find some patience because home sales aren't likely to rebound significantly this selling season, new mortgage data indicates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 37 percent drop in applications for home loans last week compared to the same week in 2009.

Even though the weekly survey -- an index measuring mortgage volume -- was up a seasonally adjusted 1.8 percent from the previous week, experts warn that the continuing low levels of mortgage applications could mean a prolonged recovery for home sales numbers.

Waning applications is an indicator that home sales are unlikely to increase in August or September, Michael Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics, said in a press release.

But there's one good piece of news for the consumer: With interest rates historically low (and amazingly falling even lower), buyers are racing to take advantage of refinancing options.


Mortgage refinancing
is at 15-month highs and increased 2.8 percent from the previous week, according to the MBA index.

"Lower long-term interest rates have led to a new surge in mortgage refinancing," Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in Toronto, told Bloomberg.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage dipped to 4.43 percent from 4.55 percent the week before, marking a record-low in data that dates back to 1990.

But Ashworth added that sales data reveals that "the housing market is in free fall again."

Despite the opportunity to benefit from rock-bottom rates, buyers aren't jumping in to buy, following the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. And dismal reports of demand -- like existing-home sales plummeting in July to their lowest level on record -- have sent jitters to the stock market in anticipation of a double-dip recession.

Without a housing sector recovery, some argue, the economy can't fully turn around.


For more on mortgages and refinancing see these AOL Real Estate guides:











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