| NEW YORK, April 8
NEW YORK, April 8 U.S. mortgage applications
rose last week, as demand for home purchase loans jumped even
as interest rates edged up from record lows, data from an
industry group showed on Wednesday.
Demand for home purchase loans, an indicator of home sales,
far outweighed demand for refinancing. The increase may help
gauge what is in store for the hard-hit U.S. housing market
this spring, the peak home buying season.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally
adjusted index of mortgage applicationsUSMGM=ECI , which
includes both purchase and refinance loans, for the week ended
April 3 increased 4.7 percent to 1,250.6.
Cameron Findlay, chief economist at LendingTree.com, based
in Charlotte, North Carolina, said home loan demand at his
company has remained strong and steady over the last several
"In addition, the quality of the borrowers coming to us has
remained high with high FICO scores and low loan-to-value
ratios," he said on Tuesday. "This is an encouraging sign as
responsible borrowers looking to purchase or refinance their
homes are getting the help they need with low rate,
FICO scores refer to borrowers' credit ratings.
Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding
fees, averaged 4.73 percent, up 0.12 percentage point from the
a record low reached the previous week. The survey has been
conducted weekly since 1990.
Interest rates were well below year-ago levels of 5.78
"As rates remain at historic lows, we anticipate this trend
will continue as more borrowers take the time to shop around
for competitive rates on home loans," he said.
The U.S. housing market is in the worst downturn since the
Great Depression and its impact has rippled through the
recession-hit economy, as well as the rest of the world.
Economists contend that the economy may not emerge from its
slump unless the housing market stabilizes.
Low mortgage rates have generated demand for home
refinancing loans and should continue to do so. Lower monthly
payments provide a bit of relief to strapped consumers amid
rising unemployment and a shrinking economy.
Until last week, the low rates had only a moderate impact
on demand for loans to buy homes.
The MBA's seasonally adjusted purchase index USMGPI=ECI
rose 11.1 percent to 297.7.
The four-week moving average of mortgage applications,
which smooths the volatile weekly figures, was up 13.3
WEEKLY REFINANCING ACTIVITY RISES
The Mortgage Bankers seasonally adjusted index of
refinancing applications USMGR=ECI increased 3.2 percent to
The refinance share of applications decreased to 77.9
percent from 79.1 percent the previous week. The
adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity was unchanged at 1.5
Fixed 15-year mortgage rates averaged 4.49 percent, up from
4.45 percent the previous week. Rates on one-year ARMs
increased to 6.23 percent from 6.20 percent.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)