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Mortgage Applications Fall 3.7%: MBA

Mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent in mid-December, reflecting a rebound from sharper declines seen during the same time from the year before.

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The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported the findings in releasing its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, which it adjusted to account for the holidays.

The MBA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan applications, saw total volume tick up by 39 percent ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a higher number for the last few weeks of December 2011 on a year-over-year basis.

├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£Mortgage application activity declined over the last two weeks, even after adjusting for the typical seasonal decline in activity,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø ""Michael Fratantoni"":http://www.mbaa.org/files/SpeakersBureau/FrantantoniM.pdf, MBA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós VP of research and economics, said in a statement. ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£Refinance applications continue to account for the vast majority of total application volume, with the refinance share reaching its highest level in 2011.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø

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Mortgage applications fell modestly last year when compared with figures for the same from December 2010, which saw mortgage application volume plummet by 18.6 percent as interest rates rose for loans and homeowners largely stayed on the sidelines of a much weaker economy.

The refinance share of activity meanwhile went up to new highs, with the Refinance Index dipping by 1.9 percent last month as refinancing activity peaked at 81.9 percent. This represents a significant change year-over-year, when mortgage applications declined by 24.6 percent ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a new low since April that year.

Experts explained in past interviews with _MReport_ that 2011 differed from 2010 by ending the year on a high note for several measures of economic and housing activity.

While housing drifted on stimulus from federal homebuyer tax credits last year, for instance, the market this year climbed on renewed confidence in home sales, an expanded Home Affordable Refinance Program, and action taken by the Fed with other central banks to make it easier to borrow on the dollar.

Government involvement in the markets again seemed as prevalent in 2010 as in 2011, with government mortgage fees on the rise once lawmakers rolled forward with a payroll tax extension over the holidays.

Fratantoni said that the GSEs and FHA would eventually see increases in guarantee fees and premiums for their loans and insurance, respectively, adding that the MBA does ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£not expect to see an impact on mortgage rates and application activity until at least February.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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