purchase apps rise as refinance demand falls, by Thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Applications to purchase a home increased during the week ending September 3 as refinanceapps slid, according to the latest survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

That bucked an ongoing trend seen over the past few months in which refinance apps were surging and purchase apps were falling flat.

Overall, home loan demand decreased 1.5 percent from one week earlier, thanks to a 3.1 percent dip in refinance activity, offset by a 6.3 percent rise in purchase apps.

“Purchase applications increased last week, reaching the highest level since the end of May.  However, purchase activity remains well below levels seen prior to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit, and is almost 40 percent below the level recorded one year ago,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, in a release.

“On the other hand, refinance volume dropped last week for the first time in six weeks, but the level of applications to refinance remains close to recent highs, as historically low mortgage rates continue to draw borrowers into the market.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 81.9 percent of total apps from 82.9 percent one week earlier as mortgage rates inched off record lows.

The popular 30-year fixed averaged 4.50 percent, up from 4.43 percent, while the 15-year fixed rose to 4.00 percent from 3.88 percent.

Finally, the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage ticked up to 7.00 percent from 6.95 percent, and remains quite unattractive.

Credit score gaps narrow for FHA loans: Quality Mortgage Services, by Jason Philyaw, Housingwire.com

The credit score gap for 2010 loans through the Federal Housing Administration fell 43 points from 2006 levels, according to Quality Mortgage Services.

The mortgage quality-control services firm said its data show the average credit score of FHA loans ranked as excellent in 2006 was 665 whereas the average score of a loan ranked fair was 603 for a gap of 62 points. For FHA loans originated so far this year, the firm’s data show excellent loans have average credit scores of 707 while fair loans average scores are 688 for a difference of 19 points.

“This is good news for investors because of the increase number of loans going for securitization where the borrower has a lower probability of a historical or future 90-day late credit scenario,” Quality Mortgage Services executive vice president Tommy Duncan said.

The Franklin, Tenn.-based company performs post-closing quality-control audits and tracks trends of mortgages.

“The decrease in the credit score gap shows that the FHA loan product is limiting itself to home buyers and reducing the number of applicants that would have normally qualified for a FHA loan in 2006,” Duncan said. “Also, this trend may make it more difficult to associate high-risk loans with certain credit score ranges and may place more focus on ratios. This data shows that underwriting templates have adjusted to a higher credit score standard to obtain a FHA loan and may be preventing the tradition first-time homebuyer, or low to moderate income earners, from obtaining a FHA loan.”

Write to Jason Philyaw.