Housing market gains ground as stay-at-home guidelines ease

Mortgage rates stayed close to record-lows

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People are returning to the housing market as states begin to slowly reopen from lockdown measures put in place by state and local governments to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

That is being reflected in the latest mortgage application figures as well as purchasing interest, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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Applications for mortgages increased 0.3 percent over the prior week, while the purchasing index rose 11 percent.

“We expect this positive purchase trend to continue – at varying rates across the country – as states gradually loosen social distancing measures, and some of the pent-up demand for housing returns in what is typically the final weeks of the spring home buying season," said said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

Interest in refinancing fell by 3 percent from the previous week, but is still 201 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

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The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose slightly to 3.43 percent from 3.40 percent.

“Mortgage rates stayed close to record-lows, but refinance applications decreased for the fourth consecutive week, driven by a 5 percent drop in conventional refinances.," added Kan.

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The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990.