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US mortgage applications in largest fall since financial crash

By Lawrence Gash

Potential homebuyers biding their time despite Fed attempts to restore market stability

US mortgage applications have suffered their largest drop since the global financial crisis in 2008-09. The housing market has been unable to withstand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the American economy.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications in the week ending March 20 fell 29 per cent, while the home-purchase index fell 15 per cent on the month and 11 per cent on the year.

Refinancing applications have also diminished, dropping 34 per cent on the previous week, but still stand up 195 per cent on the year before.

Much of the United States has entered into an effective lockdown, with the National Guard deployed to assist state authorities in California, New York and Washington state. More than 60,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in the country with more than 800 deaths.

While the shutdowns have made property viewings impossible, even if they went ahead many potential homebuyers are waiting for some degree of economic stability to return.

The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages of $510,000 or less has increased in the past week from 3.74 to 3.82 per cent.

Potential buyers are biding their time despite the Federal Reserve purchasing $50bn (£42.4bn, €46.2bn) in commercial mortgage-backed securities every day this week to restore market stability.

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