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Mortgage filings fall to nearly 8-year low

August 21, 2008|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — Mortgage application volume fell last week to its lowest level in nearly eight years, the Mortgage Bankers Assn. said Wednesday.

The drop is the latest sign of a struggling housing market. On Tuesday, a Commerce Department report showed construction of homes and apartments fell in July to the lowest level in more than 17 years.

And while fewer new homes are being built, fewer customers are refinancing mortgages. A sharp drop in refinance volume in recent weeks has been the leading driver of declining application volume.

The trade group's application index fell to 419.3 during the week ended Aug. 15, its lowest level since the index hit 298.3 in December 2000, and a 1.5% decline from the prior week. Application volume is down 61% from its 2008 peak in February.

The MBA's index peaked at 1,856.7 during the week ended May 30, 2003, at the height of the housing boom. An index value of 100 is equal to the application volume on March 16, 1990, the first week the MBA tracked application volume.

The survey covers about 50% of all residential retail mortgage originations each week.

Application volume fell despite a drop in interest rates as well. The average rate for traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 6.47% during the week ended Aug. 15 from 6.57% the previous week.

The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular refinancing option, fell to 5.99% from 6.17%.

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