Make us your home page
Instagram

Rise in mortgage applications fueled by low rates, refis, lower home prices

Rock-bottom interest rates and low home prices have created an increase in work for mortgage officers in Tampa Bay and around the country.

Mortgage applications jumped 23.1 percent nationally last week on low rates and a dramatic upswing in refinancing activity, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. New applications for home purchases rose 10.4 percent from the previous week.

Andy Wood of American Mortgage Services in Tampa has closed 17 loans this month and has five more closings scheduled. He attributed the increase to lower home prices.

He said this January will be his best January since 1999.

"People have been on the fence for several years," said Wood, who doesn't handle refinancings. "Two or three years ago, prices of many homes were much higher. Buyers are now competing with multiple bids on many houses."

The Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday that home sales and median prices rose last month in Tampa Bay, continuing a monthslong trend. The increases have led some real estate experts and economists to think the area's worst housing days are over.

Brian Lamb, Fifth Third Bank's Tampa Bay president, said the fourth quarter of 2011 was the best quarter of the year for new mortgages and refinance applications for the lender. Although he cautioned that it's still early in the economic recovery, the bank is seeing an uptick with customers needing loans for newly built homes.

"Builders are going vertical," Lamb said. "They're starting to move some inventory."

New loan applications are up about 15 percent at United Mortgage Affiliates in Apollo Beach. Loan officer Carole Gardner doesn't typically process refinance applications but has seen an influx of requests from former customers.

Gardner cautioned that January has always been a busy month in her office. But the low rates, she said, are driving the application increase, along with buyers returning to the market after the holidays. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is at a record low 3.89 percent.

She added: "People could be feeling a little more confident, but most buyers have been actively looking for a while."

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that refinancing is at its highest level since August.

Alan Lucas, a senior loan officer at BB&T in Tampa, said he has heard from several builders who plan to start offering new homes again in Tampa Bay, adding: "Activity has picked up, but refinancing is primarily fueling it."

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

Rise in mortgage applications fueled by low rates, refis, lower home prices 01/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Ciccio executive chef Luis Flores prepares an Impossible Burger Wednesday at the Epicurean Hotel Food Theatre in Tampa.
  3. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    Construction is underway for the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This view is from atop Amalie Arena, where local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the first piece of what will be the new Water Street District. The USF building is expected to open in late 2019. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  5. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]