Loan Applications to Buy U.S. Homes Decline to Lowest Since 2016

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(Bloomberg) -- Loan applications to purchase U.S. homes declined for a third straight week to the lowest since November 2016 as coronavirus mitigation efforts stymied house hunting.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s purchase index dropped 10.8% in the period ended March 27 after tumbling 14.6% -- the worst two weeks since May 2010, data from the Washington-based group showed Wednesday.

Loan Applications to Buy U.S. Homes Decline to Lowest Since 2016

While home buying is falling victim to the pandemic-related economic stop, mortgage refinancing increased for the first time in three weeks, indicating the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate cuts and massive purchases of mortgage-backed securities may be starting to bear fruit. The measure of refinancing jumped 25.5% as the contract rate on a 30-year fixed loan fell to 3.47% from 3.82%.

The MBA’s broader index of all mortgage applications increased 15.3% last week.

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