Lower Rates Revive Refinancing Boom

As interest rates tumble, home owners are rushing to take advantage of the lowest rates of the year. Overall, mortgage applications rose 5.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis during the week ending Oct. 10, led by an 11 percent week-to-week surge in refinance applications, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.

"Growing concerns about weak economic growth in Europe caused a flight to quality into U.S. assets last week, leading to sharp drops in interest rates,” says Mike Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist. “Mortgage rates for most loan products fell to their lowest level since June 2013. Refinance application volume reached the highest level since June 2014 as a result."

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to a nationwide average of 4.20 percent last week, from 4.30 percent the week earlier, the MBA reports. However, average mortgage rates reportedly have dropped even more this week, with many lenders reporting a 4 percent average as of Tuesday and some even offering 3.875 percent to creditworthy borrowers, according to Mortgage News Daily.

Low rates, however, aren’t spurring greater homebuying activity. Mortgage applications for home purchases, viewed as a gauge of future home buying, dropped 1 percent last week. Purchase applications are 4 percent lower than they were for the same week one year ago, the MBA reports.

"Purchase application volume continues to run behind last year's level, but to a lesser degree,” Fratantoni says. “We continue to expect that the strengthening job market should lead to an increase in purchase activity next year.”

Source: “Mortgage Rate Drop Sparks Refinancing Boomlet,” CNBC (Oct. 15, 2014)