Industry NewsMortgage

Mortgage rates down, but can you get one?

Fed action spurs boom in refi applications

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Mortgage rates have plunged since the Federal Reserve said it would spend $600 billion to buy mortgage-backed securities and debt issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, but tightened underwriting standards mean many people won't be able to take advantage of them. The Mortgage Bankers Association said applications for refinance loans shot up 203 percent on an adjusted basis for the holiday-shortened week ending Nov. 28. Applications for purchase loans were up a more modest 38 percent. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.47 percent from 5.99 percent, and points decreased to 1.16 from 1.23 for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans, the MBA said. "Many borrowers missed an opportunity to take advantage when rates dropped sharply for a brief period when the GSEs were placed under conservatorship," said MBA forecaster Orawin Velz in a statement. "When rates plummeted following the Fed's announcement that it would buy G...