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Mortgage rates steady, applications off

Demand for FHA purchase loans holds up

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A survey of lenders shows applications for mortgages down 15 percent for the week ending Feb. 20, even with rates hovering near historic lows. While applications for government-insured purchase loans held steady, applications for refinance loans were down a seasonally adjusted 19.1 percent from the week before, the Mortgage Bankers Association said. Purchase loan applications fell by 2.6 percent, driven by a 4.4 percent decline in applications for conventional loans. Applications for government-insured purchase loans, largely FHA, were up 0.8 percent. Applications for refinance loans accounted for 69.7 percent of applications, down from 74.2 percent the week before. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans increased from 1.7 percent of total applications to 1.9 percent. Freddie Mac reported today that interest rates were little changed this week, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaging 5.07 percent with an average 0.7 point. That's essentially unc...