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Friday, April 08, 2011

Refinance Activity and Mortgage Rates

by Calculated Risk on 4/08/2011 01:58:00 PM

Yesteday Scott Reckard at the LA Times wrote about mortgage lenders laying off workers as refinance activity declined: Home lenders shed workers as mortgage rates climb. Here is a graph of refinance activity and mortgage rates:

Mortgage rates and refinance activity Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

This graph shows the MBA's refinance index (monthly average) and the the 30 year fixed rate mortgage interest rate from the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey®.

Although mortgage rates are still below 5%, it takes lower and lower rates to get people to refi (at least lower than recent purchase rates).

With 30 year mortgage rates now about 0.6 percentage points above the lows in October, this is the end of the recent surge in refinance activity - unless rates drop significantly again. With refinance activity down over 50%, and mortgage purchase activity at low levels, the lenders need fewer workers (as Reckard noted).