Appetite for purchase mortgages stayed flat last week, clocking in well below the same week a year ago as costlier mortgage insurance and tight credit continued to hamper demand. Applications for purchase loans increased a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent for the week ending July 18 compared to a week earlier but were down 15 percent from a year ago, according to the latest Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. Demand for purchase mortgages has lagged in 2014. One reason may be that the Federal Housing Administration is charging higher mortgage insurance premiums. For-sale inventory, mortgage rates, unemployment, and student loan debt among millennials who would otherwise be first-time homebuyers are other often-cited factors affecting demand. Hoping to shore up the FHA’s reserves and shift market share back to the private sector, the Obama administration has tightened FHA underwriting standards and hiked annual premiums for most FHA mortgages...
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