US mortgage demand stirred by drop in loan rates

By Lynn Adler

NEW YORK, April 21 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. mortgage applications
bounced from three-month lows last week as potential buyers
locked in lower borrowing costs before the federal tax credit
expires, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

Thirty-year mortgage rates dropped to hover around 5
percent, stoking home loan demand after applications slid for
two straight weeks.

Refinancing picked up by 15.8 percent to represent 60
percent of all applications last week.

Demand for loans to buy a home increased 10.1 percent to
send the industry group’s total applications index up 13.6
percent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

“Purchase applications continued to increase coming out of
the Easter holiday, as we approach the end of the homebuyer tax
credit, and are up modestly over last month,” said Michael
Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics.

Falling Treasury yields, used as a peg for mortgage rates,
helped reduce the average 30-year loan rate by 0.13 percentage
point to 5.04 percent.

The rate was up to 5.31 percent two weeks earlier, the
highest since August 2009, and remains above the record low of
4.61 percent set in March of last year.

Harsh winter weather sapped housing demand in the first
months of the year. The initial wave of the homebuyer tax
credit, extended and broadened late last year, were seen having
robbed some of this year’s demand.

But some signs have emerged that buyers are surfacing to
lock in the credit while they can. If they qualify for the
incentives of up to $8,000, they need to have home contracts
signed by the end of April and close loans by June 30.

Permits to build houses, for example, in April shot up to
the highest level since October 2008. To read more, see
[ID:nN16220782].

At best, though, housing is widely seen hovering around
current weak levels at least through the year. The market still
needs to work through a record stockpile of foreclosed
properties, which RealtyTrac forecasts could drag into 2013.
Read more at [ID:nNYS007912].

Jack Pritchard, Charlotte, North Carolina-based co-founder
of Refinance.com, sees rising mortgage rates later this year
and the expiration of the tax credits cutting into home sales
and refinancing.

“The spring housing season, even with the tax credit, would
be considered stable — but stable at the bottom,” he said.

“You’ve got a consumer trying to time the ultimate bottom
in real estate prices and you still have extremely tight credit
standards for consumers to qualify,” Pritchard added.

Stock Market Advice

US mortgage demand stirred by drop in loan rates