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More Homebuyers Entering Market, But Fewer ReFis Happening

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With housing affordability still near an all-time high and many consumers beginning to feel better about their finances, interest in buying new homes has increased steadily in the past several months.

That change was once again reflected in home loan applications filed nationwide, though overall activity fell as a result of people having less interest in refinancing their existing deals, according to the latest weekly data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The overall market for mortgage applications slipped 4.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in the week ending October 12, which included an adjustment for Columbus Day.

That largely came as a result of refinance activity slipping 5 percent from one week to the next, the report said. This type of mortgage deal typically makes up the vast majority of the entire market, and this week that share slipped to 82 percent from the previous week’s 83 percent. Meanwhile, mortgages for new purchases climbed to the highest levels seen since June, rising 1 percent from the previous week.

However, on an unadjusted basis, purchase applications slipped 9 percent from the previous week, and refinances tumbled 14 percent, the report said. In all likelihood, this was largely because of the holiday.

But consumers may also have been less interested in refinancing their home loans because rates continued to rise on most types of mortgage, the report said. For instance, those for 30-year fixed-rate loans climbed to 3.57 percent from 3.56 percent. The same is true of jumbo 30-year fixed financing, which saw rates jump even more appreciably, to 3.81 percent from 3.74 percent. Federal Housing Finance Authority-backed 30-year fixed mortgages held steady at 3.34 percent.

At the same time, however, rates for 15-year fixed mortgages – which are favored by refinancers – actually fell to 2.87 percent from 2.88 percent, the report said. There was a similar decline for five- and one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, which slipped to 2.59 percent from 2.6 percent.

Experts generally believe that rising home values to continue appreciating for much of the next year, even as interest rates remain low thanks to the Federal Reserve Board’s QE3 efforts. That, in turn, could serve to encourage more consumers to enter the housing market both as sellers and buyers as the economy continues to improve.

Image: Jerry7171, via Flickr

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