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Apps Tumble, 30-Year Eases

Average 30-year 5.10%

January 29, 2009


Reflecting last week's increase in mortgage rates, loan applications tumbled. But government business was better, and the 30-year rate eased.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage eased 2 basis points from last week to 5.10% in Freddie Mac's survey of 125 thrifts, commercial banks and mortgage lenders for the week ending Jan. 29. A year ago, the 30-year averaged 5.68%.

While the 30-year was above the record-low 4.96% set in the week ending Jan. 15, it still remains historically low.

Freddie reported the average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.80%, unchanged from the prior week.

A benchmark for fixed-mortgage rates, the yield on the 10-year Treasury, was 2.788% near midday. Last week around this time, the yield stood at 2.628%.

Freddie Chief Economist Frank Nothaft explained in the survey that the first increase in six months in the index of leading indicators was offset by a Federal Reserve statement that the economy had weakened further.

More than half of the 100 mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers and other "experts" surveyed by for the week Jan. 29 to Feb. 4 expected rates to increase at least 3 BPS during the next 35 to 45 days. Another 36 saw no change, while just nine predicted a decline.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 5.27%, up 3 BPS from last week, Freddie said.

The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM was down 0.02% from the prior week to 4.90%, according to Freddie's survey. Adjustments to the 1-year ARM during the life of the loan are based the yield of the 1-year Treasury. The 1-year yielded 0.48% yesterday, up from 0.43% seven days earlier.

The six-month London Interbank Offered Rate, which is the index used on a significant share of subprime ARMs, was 1.68% yesterday, reported. A week earlier, LIBOR yielded 1.55%.

ARMs accounted for more than 2% of loan applications tracked by the Mortgage Bankers Association in its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Jan. 23. The ARM share in the prior survey was recorded at less than 2%.

MBA said overall loan applications were down 39% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior week, bringing its Market Composite Index to 732.1.

Refinance activity drove the decline, the trade group reported, falling 48% from a week earlier. Refinances accounted for 73% of all applications.

Purchase activity was also down -- 3% -- while government applications climbed 9%, according to MBA's survey.

Sam Garcia worked in mortgage lending for twenty years prior to becoming publisher of

e-mail: [email protected]

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