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A for sale sign stands in front of a home April 8, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A for sale sign stands in front of a home April 8, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

U.S. mortgage applications hit 15-year low Add to ...

U.S. home mortgage applications for purchases fell to a nearly 15-year low last week as resurgent worries about the strength of the economy kept buyers at bay, an industry group said Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 2.4 per cent in the week ended Aug. 19.

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The seasonally adjusted gauge of loan requests for home purchases tumbled 5.7 per cent to its lowest level since December 1996, the MBA said. Refinance demand also sagged as interest rates rose, with the refinance index slipping 1.7 per cent.

“Another week of volatile markets and rampant uncertainty regarding the economy kept prospective homebuyers on the sidelines, with purchase applications falling to a 15-year low,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said in a statement.

“This decline impacted borrowers across the board, with purchase applications for jumbo loans falling by more than 15 per cent and purchase applications for the government housing programs falling by 8.2 per cent.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 79.8 per cent of total applications from 78.8 per cent the week before.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.39 per cent, up from 4.32 per cent.

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