The Mortgage Bankers Association's refinancing index soared to 1,842.5 in the week ended Jan. 9, topping the previous record of 1,837.9 during the week of Sept. 10, 1993.

"Rates are so low that people who refinanced in 1993 are looking to refinance," said Sandy Robertson, a regional vice president for Norwest Mortgage Corp.

The association's overall applications index rose 45.2%, to 497.3 in the week, while the purchase index rose by 13.6%, to 266.

The overall index surpassed last year's high of 348.3, reached during the last week of October.

The average effective rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 7.09% in the week ended Jan. 9, from the previous week's 7.26%, the MBA said.

The rate on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages pegged to the one-year constant-maturity Treasury index fell to 6.10%, from 6.34% the previous week.

Mortgage rates have fallen by more than a full percentage point in the past nine months, to a two-year low. After hitting a 1997 peak of 8.18% in April, Freddie Mac's average 30-year rate fell to 6.94% in the week ended Jan. 9, matching a low set in February 1996.

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