WASHINGTON – Anyone who had any doubts the air might slowly be starting to go out of the mortgage balloon only had to look at mortgage rates in the beginning of the month. According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended Aug. 8, 2003, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.34%, with an average 0.7 point. Just one week prior, the rate was 6.14%. Last year at the same time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.31%. That makes the rate for the week ended Aug. 8 2003 the highest the figure has been since the week ending Aug. 2, 2002 when the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.43%. The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage the week ending Aug. 8, 2003 was 5.66%, with an average 0.7 point, up from the previous week's average of 5.44%. A year ago, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.69%. The rise in interest rates spurred consumers who had been deliberating purchasing homes to make their buying decision and get their mortgage applications in before rates went even higher. According to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, consumers applied for purchase mortgages in near-record numbers. Applications for mortgages to buy homes rose 6.9% in the week ended Aug. 1 to their second highest level since 1990. At the same time, the MBAA's report showed refinancing applications in the U.S. fell 2.4% to a level almost 60% below their high point in May. [email protected]

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