Higher mortgage rates may mean easier credit

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It is likely no coincidence that standards are easing as rates rise and mortgage applications fall. Total mortgage applications were down 47 percent last week from a year ago. Refinances, which had been the banks bread and butter during the housing crash, are down 59 percent from a year ago. Applications to purchase a home are up just 5 percent.

“People see interest rates rise, they slow down some of that eagerness to get into the market,” said David Stevens, CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

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Credit standards tightened dramatically over the past several years, as loose credit was largely blamed for the crash in housing. Average borrower credit scores on new loans are dramatically higher today, and lenders require larger down payments.

Even the FHA, the government mortgage insurer, which was created to help lower creditworthy borrowers, has raised its standards as well as its insurance premiums. Many lenders have overlays to their guidelines that they add on top of standard conventional guidelines. They could do that because refinances were so high, they needed to slow the volume in order to process all the loans.

Article source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100939328

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