Mortgage loan application volume fell 18.9% in the week ending June 26 and sits 7.4% below its year-ago level, according a survey covering more than 50% of US residential mortgage applications and conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Total refinance applications slipped 30% this week to its lowest level since November 2008, according to the MBA. Refinance applications accounted for 46.4% of applications submitted in the week, down from 54% the previous week, as the refi wave continues to lose momentum despite mortgage rates at historic lows. The MBA, which also records weekly interest rate averages, found rates fell across the board in the same week. the average 30-year fixed mortgage bore a 5.34% rate this week, from 5.44% last week, while 15-year fixed mortgages averaged 4.81% from 4.93% last week. A separate survey conducted by Mortgage Maxx for weeks has noted the overall value to refinance is often dwarfed by the costs — fees and points up front and other expenses that erase monthly savings. The survey this week found a corresponding decline in household application activity, which dropped 2.1%. The Mortgage Application Index — or MAX — adjusts total application figures to count multiple application submissions by a single household as one participant. The index measuring California household activity dropped 1.5%. MAX publisher Paul Descloux in his weekly commentary on the index noted that despite Federal Reserve efforts to keep interest rates low, mortgage rates are too far above the 5% mark to make a significant difference for struggling homeowners looking to refinance into lower rates or longer terms. “Given that a quarter of homeowners are underwater, default may make more economic sense from their distressed perspective than refinancing or modification,” Descloux writes. “As unemployment ascends as a major factor in housing economics, the coming months may reveal unbearable pressure as some simply let go.” Write to Diana Golobay. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.
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