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Mortgage Refinance Going Up, Interest Rates Down

Written By:
May 24, 2012 at 12:26 AM

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) survey conducted for its Market Composite Index report, for the week ending May 18, 2012, shows the 30-year fixed rate mortgage continues to hit records lows. The interest rate for this popular mortgage product averaged 3.79 percent. The 15-year fixed rate dropped to a stunning 3.04 percent. Last year at this time, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.61 percent.

The survey by MBA also reveals mortgage applications (seasonally adjusted) increased 3.8 percent. The unadjusted Index rose to 3.3 percent, compared to last week.

Refinance Index Strong

The declined in mortgage interest rates has stimulated applications for loan refinances. Mortgage refinance applications reached its highest level since February 10, 2012, registering a 5.6 percent rise over the prior week. This represents the third straight week that refinance applications have increased. Borrowers looking to refinance from high interest rate loans into low interest rate mortgages comprised 76.6 percent of total applicants, a 1.7 percent increase over the 74.9 percent figure recorded for the past week.

The mortgage refinance share of total applications makes it the highest level of refinancing activities since March 2, 2012. Applications for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) remained unchanged over the previous week, making up 28 percent of all mortgage refinance applications.

Other Index Metrics

The Purchase Index, which measures mortgage application for home purchases, declined to its lowest level since April 20, 2012, falling to 3.0 percent compared to the previous week. The MBA calculated a 3.6 percent drop in the unadjusted Purchase Index over the prior week. The same marker declined 4.2 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

The adjustable–rate mortgage (ARM) percentage of application activities fell from 5.4 percent of total applications to 5.0 percent. The government share of the Index dropped to its lowest level since March 27, 2009 to 36.2 percent from 36.3 percent.

The seasonally adjusted Market Index 4-week moving average rose 3.72 percent. The 4-week moving average for the Purchase Index increased 0.17 percent, while the Refinance Index climbed 4.83 percent.

Applying for a Mortgage Refinance

Recent revisions to HARP 2.0 have made millions of homeowners with underwater mortgages eligible to refinance into low interest rate mortgages However, borrowers who would like to mortgage refinance must understand that mortgage lenders must evaluate all applications on a case-by-case basis. Even if a borrower meets the basic conditions outlined by the HARP mortgage program, certain lenders may have in-house overlays or additional conditions borrowers must satisfy to qualify for mortgage refinance. These overlays may include, including income and credit requirements. Borrowers must also have a loan under Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to qualify for HARP.

The FHA Streamline Refinance Program can also help eligible homeowners who currently have mortgage balances that exceed the fair market value of their homes. Homeowners must already have a FHA-insured mortgage. Similar to the HARP program, borrowers might have to meet additional requirements beyond those listed by the FHA.


Borrowers should conduct due diligence to find the best mortgage refinance rate for which they can qualify. Mortgage products vary between lenders, including points and fees added to or subtracted from the advertised interest rate of the mortgage. Borrowers who hold private mortgages cannot refinance under HARP or the FHA Streamline Refinance Program. These homeowners should speak with their respective lenders to learn about in-house mortgage refinancing options or seek mortgage modifications.





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