Industry NewsMortgage

Low rates spur rush to refinance

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Applications for refinance loans jumped nearly 30 percent during the week ending March 13, as interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans dipped below 5 percent to tie a record low seen in January.In its weekly survey of members, the Mortgage Bankers Association said mortgage applications were up 21.2 percent from a week earlier, driven by a 29.6 percent increase in applications for refinance loans.Applications for conventional purchase loans were up 2.1 percent, while applications for government-backed purchase loans (largely FHA) were up 0.4 percent.The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 72.9 percent of total applications, up from 67.9 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 2 percent, down from 2.3 percent of total applications from the previous week.The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.89 percent from 4.96 percent, with points increasing to 1.23 from 1.16 (including the...