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COFI Hows?

Index falls further to lowest point in decades

March 3, 2003


Like the characters Joey, Chandler, and Phoebe from the wildly successful television show Friends, some mortgage borrowers are loving the aroma of java right about now. COFI, which represents interest paid by savings institutions located in the West, fell again -- bringing down rates on some adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).

The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco reported that COFI, or the 11th District monthly weighted average cost of funds index, fell to 2.308%. COFI, which is at its lowest point in decades, was reported at 2.375% in December. A year ago, the index was at 2.823%.

Members of the 11th District include commercial banks, savings institutions, credit unions, and thrift and loan companies headquartered in Arizona, California, and Nevada. COFI reflects the average interest paid by these institutions for their sources of funds including checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market deposit accounts, transaction accounts, and passbook accounts.

COFI moves more slowly than other indices because many 11th District savings institutions rely on fixed rate deposits of medium- and long-term maturities as their primary source of funds.

A widely used ARM index is the one-year Treasury bill. Last week, secondary mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported the average ARM using the one-year as an index rose 2 basis points from the prior week to 3.83%.

Sam Garcia has been in mortgage lending since 1980, and is publisher of MortgageDaily.com. He also owns and operates CloseNow.com, a real estate portal site.

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