Americans still reluctant to ramp up mortgage borrowing even as home sales, prices rise

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Americans are buying more homes and at higher prices, yet new data shows that mortgage debt is little changed.

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says outstanding U.S. mortgage debt slipped 0.7 percent in the April-June quarter to $8.12 trillion. That is up slightly from a year ago and about the same level as three years ago when the housing market bottomed.

The second quarter's decline occurred even as Americans took out more new mortgages, either to refinance old loans or purchase homes. New mortgages totaled $466 billion in the second quarter, the most in almost two years.

Those trends suggests Americans are paying down mortgage debt at roughly the same pace as new loans are made, evidence that homeowners remain wary of housing-related debt.