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. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]