ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL – 01/24/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL 01/24/2012

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ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

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ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

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ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

Mortgage loan applications surged 23% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, as record-low interest rates convinced many homeowners it was time to refinance into lower-cost loans. Refinancing activity climbed 26.4% during the week ending January 13, to its highest level since early August, the MBA reported. Meanwhile applications for new mortgages climbed 10.3% week-over-week.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

The heightened activity comes as mortgage rates test new bottoms. Last week, rates on both the 30-year and 15-year fixed loans fell to new records, at 3.89% and 3.16%, respectively, according to Freddie Mac. The vast majority of the applications — 82.2% — were to refinance existing loans rather than purchase new ones, the MBA said.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

The fact that purchase applications significantly lagged those for refinancings underscored a truism about low mortgage rates, said Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae (FNMA, Fortune 500). “[Home] sales are a lot less interest-rate sensitive than people think,” he said.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

Even with ultra-low rates, existing homes sales languished in November at an annualized rate of 4.4 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s well below the “normal” rate of between 5 million and 6 million. Duncan pointed out that low and declining interest rates may cause homebuyers to hesitate: They may expect them to fall even further.  On the other hand, rising rates, which often accompany an improving economy, can give potential homebuyers a reason to act — before rates and prices become less affordable.

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