Mortgage bankers see surge in demand for refinancings

By Inman News, Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mortgage rates were little changed this week, remaining near their lows for the year on mixed economic and housing data, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

A separate survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed a jump in applications to refinance last week, and that demand for purchase loans was stronger than at the same time a year ago.

Freddie Mac’s survey showed rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.52 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending July 21, virtually unchanged from 4.51 percent last week and 4.56 percent a year ago.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit an all-time low in Freddie Mac records dating to 1971 of 4.17 percent during the week ending Nov. 11, 2010, before climbing to a 2011 high of 5.05 percent in February.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.66 percent with an average 0.7 point, compared to last week’s 2011 low of 3.65 percent and 4.03 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate loan hit an all-time low in records dating to 1991 of 3.57 percent in November, before climbing to a 2011 high of 4.29 percent in February.

Rates on 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 3.27 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from 3.29 percent last week and 3.79 percent a year ago.

This year, rates on 5-year ARMs have ranged from a high of 3.92 percent in February to 3.22 percent during the week ending June 30 — an all-time low in Freddie Mac records dating to 2005.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.97 percent with an average 0.5 point, up slightly from 2.95 percent last week but down from 3.70 percent a year ago.

MBA chief economist Michael Fratantoni said ongoing turmoil in the financial markets — particularly the European debt crisis — has brought mortgage rates down.

The MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey showed demand for refinancings jumped 23.1 percent during the week ending July 15 from the week before.

After adjusting for seasonal factors, demand for purchase loans was virtually unchanged from the week before, but was up 8.3 percent from a year ago.

Fratantoni said one factor driving the surge in refinancings may be that borrowers who could be affected by potential decreases in the so-called jumbo conforming loan limit this fall may be moving to lock in fixed-rate financing.

Unless Congress decides otherwise, the $729,750 cap on jumbo conforming loans in high-cost markets is scheduled to drop to $625,500 on Oct. 1.

In forecast published last month, MBA economists said they expected rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to average 4.9 percent during the third quarter and 5.2 percent during the final three months of the year. The forecast predicts a gradual rise in rates next year, to an average 5.7 percent during fourth-quarter 2012.