Mortgage Apps Up for 4th Straight Week

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported this week that requests for U.S. home loans rose for a fourth week in a row, climbing 1.1 percent despite a rise in borrowing costs. The MBA’s report showed growth in both purchase loan requests and refinancing applications. Requests for financing to buy a home rose by 1.5 percent, while applications for refinancing mortgages climbed 0.9 percent.

The positive news came on the heels of a separate report from the U.S. Commerce Department showing an unexpected pickup in new home sales in April. It is the second straight month in which new home sales picked up, which realtors say is due to perceived strength in the job market and the very low interest rates. Despite the pair of positive reports, however, economists warn that the recovery has a long way to go, as the oversupply of homes on the market and continued foreclosures are expected to apply continuous pressure on prices, which may drop as much as another 5 percent before the year is over.

The average interest rate last week for the nation’s most popular loan type, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, rose to 4.69 percent from the prior week’s average of 4.60 percent. The 4.6 rate was the lowest reported by mortgage giant Freddie Mac since last November. The average rate for a 15 year fixed loan, meanwhile climbed fro 3.75 percent to 3.78. Refinance loans accounted for 66.8 percent of all mortgage applications last week, up slightly from the prior week’s ratio of 66.7 percent.