Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Homeowners beating down bankers’ doors

Interest rate declines fuel refinancing frenzy

October 31, 2001

The housing market is active nowadays for refinancing.

"We've had lots and lots of inquiries about refinancing and what interest rates are doing," said David Hoppes, president of Mutual Savings.

At Mutual, interest rates, which have dropped since Sept. 11, are running at about 7 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, or 6.7 percent with no points or origination fee. A year ago, these rates were about 1.75 percentage points higher than they are now, Hoppes said.

The rates give consumers an extra edge.

"It can means savings of tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan," Hoppes said.

Lower interest rates have increased the workload at Community National Bank, as well.

"Our refinancing volume has mushroomed," said Bill Altman, president.

Altman said the 5.5 percent prime rate is the lowest in 30 years.

Altman said prospective refinancers should wait until their interest rate will drop at least three-fourths of a percentage point to make the maneuvering pay off. Costs of refinancing a loan will be less if the customer obtains the refinancing at the same bank that holds the current mortgage, because most of the fees and the title insurance will already have been paid.

Altman sees a changing trend in the real estate market.

"A year ago at this time, we had a lot of buyers," he said. "Our volume now is about the same it's just a different type of volume."

The softness of the economy that is beneficial to homeowners who can refinance is hard on homeowners who want to sell their homes, Altman said.

"There is a fear of making a commitment," he said. "People tend to put off a decision to move up in their housing with the economic and political times as uncertain as they are."

Altman said homes are still being built in Tonganoxie.

"Most of our builders are focusing more on strictly building for customers," Altman said. "We don't have many that are involved in speculation."

Along with the lower interest rates that encourage refinancing is a correlating drop in interest rates paid to customers who are putting their dollars in savings. For instance, on Thursday, Community National Bank was paying a little more than 4 percent on a four-year certificate of deposit. A year ago, that rate was 6.5 percent, Altman said.

Bill New, chairman of First State Bank and Trust of Tonganoxie, said business is brisk, especially the refinancing business.

"When people can save the kind of money that they're saving some of them probably could save a couple hundred a month on a house payment that's a pretty good incentive to do that," New said.

He said he felt positive about the activity at FSB locations in Tonganoxie, Basehor, Clearwater and Lawrence.

"Anytime we can help our customers, it's good for business," he said.

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