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Houses outside Phoenix, Ariz. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The number of mortgages in forbearance programs fell for the sixth week in a row to its lowest level in two months as of July 12, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The state of play: MBA’s estimates show 3.9 million homeowners now in forbearance plans. Demand also has risen significantly as mortgage application volume jumped 4.1% last week with applications to purchase a home 19% higher than a year ago — the ninth straight week of annual gains.

Why it matters: The numbers show the continued strength of the housing market, as mortgages have jumped and applications for the government's payment suspension program have tailed off since May.

  • It also highlights a growing divide between the wealthy and other Americans.

What they're saying: “Almost half of borrowers remaining in forbearance are now in an extension of the original term, while the remainder are in their initial forbearance plan," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist.

  • "The pace of new forbearance requests remains quite low compared to earlier in the crisis, but we are watching carefully for any increases due to either the pick-up in COVID-19 cases or the cessation of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits at the end of this month.”

Of note: MBA’s latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey covers the period from July 6 through July 12 and represents 75% of the first-mortgage servicing market (37.3 million loans).

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the impasse between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House on a new stimulus deal is supposed to be a crisis, you wouldn't know it from the stock market, where prices continue to rise.

  • That's been in no small part because U.S. economic data has held up remarkably well in recent months thanks to the $2 trillion CARES Act and Americans' unusual ability to save during the crisis.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Assassination in Iran sets stage for tense final 50 days of Trump

The funeral ceremony in Tehran. Photo: Iranian Defense Ministry via Getty

Iranian leaders are weighing their response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known as the father of Iran’s military nuclear program, who was given a state funeral Monday in Tehran.

The big picture: Iran has accused Israel of carrying out Friday’s attack, but senior leaders have suggested that they’ll choose patience over an immediate escalation that could play into the hands of the Israelis and the outgoing Trump administration.