Applications for home loan refinancings jumped by double digits last week as interest rates continued to fall, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The group’s market composite index, a measure of home loan application volume, got an 8.3 percent boost last week on a seasonally adjusted basis from the second week of January as refinance applications climbed 16.9 percent during the period. Filings for purchase loans, however, fell 4.6 percent, MBA reported.

Since the beginning of November 2007, refinance applications have risen 92 percent and purchase-loan applications are up 7 percent, according to Jay Brinkmann, MBA’s vice president of research and economics. “With tighter credit conditions we do not know how many of these applications will become loans, but it is clear that borrowers are responding to the 40- to 80-basis-point drop in rates we have seen since Nov. 2 across products.”

Borrowing costs on all loan products sank again last week, as the average contract interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 5.49 percent from 5.62 percent; the average rate on 15-year fixed loans dropped to 4.96 percent from 5.07 percent; and average rates on the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) tumbled to 5.51 percent from 5.77 percent.

Points, or loan-processing fees expressed as a percent of the total loan amount, averaged 1.07 on the 30-year loans, 1.22 on the 15-year, and 1.01 on one-year ARMs. These points include the origination fee and are based on loan-to-value ratios of 80 percent.

According to MBA, the refinance share of applications increased to 66 percent last week from 62.7 percent the previous week, and the ARM share grew to 9.3 percent from 9.2 percent.

The Mortgage Bankers Association survey covers approximately 50 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage originations, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.


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