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Refis Jump Again
Fixed rates dip

July 30, 2001

By SAM GARCIA

After jumping nearly sixteen percent last week, applications for mortgage refinance loans rose about 14% from the prior week, according to the weekly mortgage applications survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA) for the week ending July 20th. Overall, loan applications, including purchases, increased 8.71 percent from last week.

MBA's survey of mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts covers approximately 40 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage originations and has been conducted weekly since 1990.

MBA also reported the following activity:

category
index
7-20-01

change from
prior week

purchases 324.9 +4.67%
refinances 1581.4
+13.98%
conventional loans
664.3
+9.82%
government loans
250.3
+3.99%
refi activity
43.6%
+2.00%
arm activity
11.10%
-0.20%


The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) improved 5 basis points (BPS) from the prior week to 7.03% -- the lowest it has been since April this year -- according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending July 27, 2001. The average fifteen-year FRM fell 7 BPS to 6.58%. The spread between the 30-year and the 15-year rose to 45 BPS from 43 BPS last week, making the fifteen-year more attractive to consumers.

Fixed rates were lowest in the Southwest region, where the 30-year average stood at 6.98 percent. The Southwest includes the states of TX, LA, NM, OK, AR, MO, KS, CO, NE and WY.

Nationally, the average 1-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) jumped 10 BPS to 5.72 percent. Falling fixed rates and rising ARM's reduced the spread between ARM's and FRM's to 1.31% from 1.46% last week, making ARM's less attractive to
consumers. A year ago, the average 1-year ARM stood at 7.29 percent.

"In keeping with Freddie Mac's economic forecasts, mortgage rates have remained below 7.25 percent since the end of last year," said Robert Van Order, Freddie Mac chief economist. "And it is these affordable rates that are contributing to the continuing vibrancy of the housing sector.

"For instance, although the National Association of Realtors reported yesterday that although existing home sales were down for June, they are still stronger than they were last year, a good indication that the housing market remains healthy."

Economic problems in Argentina and other developing countries helped push rates down, as reported almost three weeks ago by MortgageDaily.com.

Fifty-three percent of the experts surveyed by BankRate.com say that rates will remain unchanged (+/- 2 BPS) during the next 30-45 days, while forty-two percent say rates will drop and five percent say rates will increase.


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

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