Mortgage applications dip

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Overall mortgage applications decreased 4.1% in the week ending Jan. 22, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Wednesday.

The trade group also says its survey of lenders shows the average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 2.95%, from 2.92% the week before.

The dip in mortgage requests is “a sign that borrowers are increasingly more sensitive to higher rates,” says Joel Kan, MBA’s forecaster.

The decline was led by refinance applications — which had been on a hot streak this winter. Refi demand went down 5% but was still 83% higher than during the same time last year. Applications for new mortgages — called “purchase loans” — decreased 4% last week, the MBA says, but were still up 16% versus the same week a year ago.

Low rates remain within reach

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Though the MBA’s survey shows 30-year rates climbed to their highest level since November, rates on 15-year fixed-rate loans — a popular option for refinancing — fell to an average 2.43% last week, from 2.48%, the survey says.

Meanwhile, more up-to-date numbers from Mortgage News Daily’s (MND) survey of lenders indicate 30-year mortgage rates have been easing after hitting a mid-month high, meaning borrowers shouldn’t assume that the days of ultra-low rates are done.

Rates had been surging on signs Washington might embark on a spending bonanza, but doubts are now emerging about just how quickly Congress will be able to agree on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package says Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of MND.

“Beyond politics, the core consideration of 'COVID vs. the economy’ is still a thing,” Graham points out. “Jobs haven't remotely recovered from pre-COVID levels.”

Major savings still possible

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According to mortgage giant Freddie Mac’s most recent forecast, rates on 30-year loans are expected to come close to 3% this year, meaning borrowers are at risk of missing out on near-record lows.

More than 19 million mortgage holders can still save an average $308 per month by refinancing now, says mortgage technology and data provider Black Knight.

Good refi candidates need a solid credit score and at least 20% equity in their homes to score the best rates — plus, they’ll need to shop around.

Studies from Freddie Mac and others have shown when you compare at least five rate quotes, you can save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

If you wait too long, you’ll need to spot savings elsewhere. Do a bit more comparison shopping when you buy or renew your homeowners insurance, and you could save hundreds of dollars a year for the coverage you need.

About the Author

Ethan Rotberg

Ethan Rotberg

Reporter

Ethan Rotberg is a staff reporter at MoneyWise. His background includes nearly 15 years as a writer, editor, designer and communications professional. He loves storytelling, from feature writing to narrative podcasts. His work has appeared in the Toronto Star, CPA Canada and Metro, among others.

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