Mortgage Applications Dive on Higher Rates, Low Inventory

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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK -- Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week to their lowest level since December 2000 as both refinancing and purchase applications declined, an industry group said Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 5.9 percent to 333.2 in the week ended April 25. That was the lowest level since December 2000, the group said.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%"Purchase application volume remains weak despite other data which indicated the overall pace of economic growth is picking up. The combination of higher rates, new regulation and tight inventory are all leading to a weaker spring market than we have seen in years," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA's chief economist.

The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications declined 6.9 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, fell 4.4 percent.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.49 percent in the week, unchanged from the week before.

The survey covers more than 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.

11 Ways to Protect Yourself From DIY Disasters
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Mortgage Applications Dive on Higher Rates, Low Inventory

There is a reason this proverb has been around for decades. If you cut your crown molding, tile or paneling too short, you can't go back and make it longer.

Most people can change the insides of a toilet, but problems can still arise, as Prescott discovered. If you have just one bathroom, be prepared to stay overnight elsewhere if something goes wrong. Make sure you turn off the water before you start any plumbing project.

If you know what you're doing, you can change a light fixture. But replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan involves more than just changing the fixture. Other electrical projects are even more complicated. If you do give it a shot, turn off the breaker before you touch anything.

You can find a YouTube video or detailed instructions for any project. But if that's all the information you have on a project that you've never done before, beware. A video on building a deck from someone in Florida may not tell you what you need to get the deck to withstand 80 inches of snow, and a video from Minnesota on building a deck may not have the instructions you need to ensure your deck can survive a hurricane.

Nearly every week, Home Depot (HD) stores nationwide offer free classes on everything from replacing a faucet to tiling a room. Be mindful that you need to register ahead of time to participate in these workshops.

Most hardware stores, and even some big-box stores, have experts on staff who can answer questions about home projects. If you're replacing specific parts, bring along the parts if you can rather than trying to remember what they look like.

You can rent or borrow some tools if you don't own them yourself. Hint: If you're going to assemble a lot of Ikea furniture, invest $20 in an electric screwdriver.

Some cities are stricter than others about permits, and only licensed contractors can obtain permits for some work. Doing major renovations without a permit could cause problems when you sell your home. Some cities require presale inspections, which can result in fines and the need for retroactive permits. That can mean redoing the job to city specifications.

"If you have to go to YouTube to learn something, you probably don't know what you're doing," Pekel says. Homeowners often "don't know what they don't know." If you mess up a painting project, you can always redo it. But if you take down a load-bearing wall and bring the second floor down with it, you've created a very expensive problem. With DIY projects, being cautious is typically the way to go.

If you earn $100 an hour and replacing a faucet takes you three hours, you would probably save money by hiring a plumber.

That includes both the quality of work and the time your house will be in disarray. Can you install crown molding well enough to be happy with the results? Or will it forever bug you that it's not exactly straight? That goes for more complex projects, too. If you gut the kitchen and end up taking six months to redo it, can you live without a kitchen that long?

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