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ARM Borrowers Flock to Fixed-Rate Mortgages During Fourth Quarter

Ninety-two percent of prime borrowers in a 1-year conforming adjustable-rate mortgage chose a conforming fixed-rate loan when refinancing during the fourth quarter, Freddie Mac said Wednesday, compared to 85 percent during Q3. Eighty-nine percent of prime borrowers with a conforming hybrid ARM refinanced into a fixed-rate loan as well, up from 84 percent one quarter earlier. Freddie Mac's look at refinancing activity in the fourth quarter underscores how borrowers with high credit are adjusting to market conditions expected to last for some time. “The turmoil in the financial markets that started in August and continued through the fourth quarter led most mortgage lending institutions to tighten their underwriting standards and thus some ARM products were either no longer available or came with more restrictions,� said Amy Crews Cutts, deputy chief economist for Freddie Mac. “However, even with the financial market problems in the fourth quarter, conforming mortgage rates on all four of the ARM and fixed-rate products tracked by Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey fell by roughly one-quarter of a percentage point." The GSE said its report also shows that in the fourth quarter 83 percent of borrowers who originally had a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage refinanced into another 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This rate compares to 79 percent in the third quarter. For more information, visit http://www.freddiemac.com.

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