Mortgage Rates Fall, But So Does Demand

Purchase-loan activity drops 34% from a year ago

By Inman News, Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mortgage rates set new lows this week, but bargain rates haven’t spurred borrowers into action, two surveys of lenders show.

Freddie Mac’s weekly rate survey showed 30-year fixed-rate mortgages hitting 4.44 percent for the week ending Aug. 12, a new low in records dating back to 1971.

At 3.92 percent, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were also at a low in records dating to 1991, while 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 3.56 percent — the lowest surveyed in records dating to 2005.

But low rates haven’t translated into demand for loans, another survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed. Many borrowers who might benefit by refinancing have already done so, and housing sales slowed after the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credits.

Demand for purchase loans was down 34.1 percent from a year ago during the week ending Aug. 6, and requests to refinance accounted for 78.1 percent of all loan applications, the MBA survey found.

The National Association of Realtors’ latest forecast anticipates that sales of existing homes will plummet from an annual pace of 5.6 million during the second quarter to 4.5 million during July, August and September.