Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Home-Refinancing Applications Surge

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Home-Refinancing Applications Surge

Article excerpt

Mortgage rates have sunk again to near rock-bottom lows, thanks to the economic uncertainty caused by United Kingdom's recent decision to leave the European Union, spurring a surge in refinance applications.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.42 percent, a little more than a tenth of a percentage point above the record low of 3.31 percent in November 2012.

Refinance applications were up 11 percent after last week's 21 percent rise, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Lenders and loan brokers in northern New Jersey say applications and calls have picked up but they are not calling this increase a boom, as the pool of homebuyers who can benefit from taking a percentage point or two off of their mortgages has shrunk.

"I would have thought that anyone who could refinance would have by now," said Claire Chadwick, chief financial officer of Atlantic Stewardship Bank in Midland Park. But an uptick in refinance applications there in recent weeks, suggests there are still opportunities for those who missed out on previous rate dips, she said.

Property values in northern New Jersey have been slowly but steadily rising, and that has prompted some homeowners who could not qualify for refinancing in the past to try again. About half of the bank's refinance loans are made to people switching to 15-year loans, she said. The bank is offering rates as low as 2.78 percent this week on those, which is what she is paying on her mortgage.

"I never thought I would see that [rate] again," said Chadwick, who has refinanced twice since 2009.

Wendy Nastasi, owner of Crossroads Finance Discount Mortgage in Pompton Plains, said the low rates have some New Jerseyans who would normally be thinking about barbecues and trips to the beach thinking instead about lowering their monthly mortgage payments.

"I have people who closed a year ago at 4.25 and now I can get them down to 3.25 in some cases," Nastasi said. "This is usually a very quiet week because people are on vacation, but the phones have been crazy," she said.

The savings on a $350,000 loan in that scenario would be nearly $200 a month -- an amount borrowers must weigh against the one-time closing fees they must pay. …

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