Refinancing applications at 15-month high

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Applications for mortgage refinancing hit a 15-month high last week as interest rates remained near historic lows, a mortgage bankers' group said Wednesday.

The refinance index surged 17.1% in the week ended Aug. 13, compared to the prior week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a weekly report. As a result, the association's refinance index reached its highest point since the week ended May 15, 2009.

The association credited interest rates close to historic lows for the rush to refinance. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage is about 4.5%, according to Freddie Mac, compared to about 5.2% one year ago, or 6.5% two years ago.

So someone who bought a house two years ago could shave two percentage points off their rate by refinancing. On a $200,000 mortgage, a home owner with a 6.5% loan pays $1,264 a month. At a 4.5% refinance rate, they would pay $1,013, saving $251 per month.

Applications for new purchase mortgages were down 3.4% in the latest week. The surge in refinancing requests pushed the association's composite index up 13%.  To top of page

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