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'Holiday Effect' Causes Double-Digit Mortgage Application Decline

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As 2009 winds down, mortgage applications took a double-digit slide in two weekly surveys. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) index of gross mortgage applications declined 10.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending December 18 compared to the previous week. The Mortgage Maxx index that’s adjusted to reflect the number of households applying for mortgages decreased 12.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending December 18 compared to one week prior. MBA’s refinance and purchase indices decreased 10.1% and 11.6%, respectively. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 75.9% of all applications, MBA said, adding the adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 3.8%, from 4.1% one week ago. Mortgage Maxx said the decline in activity is a normal lull experienced at the end of the year around the winter holiday time. “Look for further real declines over the next two week’s as the Christmas and New Year’s holidays shear 2009’s available remaining business days,” the firm said in its report, adding a rebound could come in early January as the “holiday effect” fades. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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