Are record-low interest rates masking high-cost mortgage lending?

Are record-low interest rates masking high-cost mortgage lending?

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The New York Times rambles, and mangles mortgages along the way

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Total Mortgage Applications Slip 3%: MBA

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The total volume of applications submitted for mortgages fell 2.9% in the week ending April 23, from a 13.6% jump in the week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). A separate survey of mortgage applications by household found that activity rose almost 3% in the same time. The MBA found that volume of applications submitted for refinance plunged 8.8% this week, bringing the refi share down to 55.7% of all applications, from 60% the previous week. The volume of applications for purchase mortgages rose 7.4% over last week to its highest level since October 2009. The 11.9% rise in applications for purchase mortgages insured by the government -- through FHA and VA -- drove the overall rise in purchase apps, MBA said. "Purchase activity continues to increase as we approach the end of the homebuyer tax credit program," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics. "Purchase applications were up almost 9% from a month ago, with a disproportionate share of the increase due to government purchase applications. Government applications for purchasing a home accounted for almost 49% of all purchase applications last week." A separate survey of the number of households submitting mortgage applications rose 2.9% in the same week. "The MAX [Mortgage Application Index] shows minimal effects from expiring tax incentives and the perennial build in housing transactions," said index publisher Mortgage Maxx in weekly commentary. "The coming weeks will need to be followed for the effects if any from a ‘cash for clunkers’ letdown in demand. With the effect from the tax incentive so indistinct, a continuation in the MAX near its current trend not to be unexpected." Write to Diana Golobay.

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