MBA: Refinance activity falls amid minor movements in mortgage rates

By Housing News

Mortgage applications declined 5.3% from last week, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

This means on an unadjusted basis, the index fell 5.3% for the week ending on Dec. 20, 2019.

“The 10-Year Treasury yield increased last week amid signs of stronger homebuilding activity and solid consumer spending, leading to a rise in conventional conforming and jumbo 30-year mortgage rates to just under 4%,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist said. “With this increase, conventional refinance application volume fell 11%.”

“Refinance applications for government loans did increase, even though rates on FHA loans picked up,” Fratantoni said. “The change in the mix of business has kept the average refinance loan size smaller than we had seen earlier this year.”

According to the MBA, the Refinance Index fell 5%, while the unadjusted Purchase Index fell 7% and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index retreated 5% from the previous week.

Although the nation’s purchase market is now at the slowest time of the year, Fratantoni said recent growth in homebuilding is likely to bolster volume next year.

“Purchase application activity declined after the seasonal adjustment, but still remains about 5% ahead of last year’s pace,” Fratantoni said. “The increase in construction activity will bolster housing inventories, which should be positive for purchase volumes going into 2020.”

Here is a more detailed breakdown of this week’s mortgage application data:

  • The refinance share of mortgage activity rose to 62.6% from last week’s 62.2%.
  • The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity fell to 4.1% of total applications.
  • The Federal Housing Administration’s share of mortgage apps increased to 14.5% from last week’s 13.7%.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs share of applications grew to 15.2% from last week’s 12.9%.
  • The Department of Agriculture share of total applications remained unchanged from last week’s 0.5%.
  • Mortgage interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) inched forward from last week’s rate of 3.98% to 3.99%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350) rose from last week’s 3.96% to 3.97%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased from last week’s 3.79% to 3.87%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell from last week’s 3.4% to 3.39%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 3.38% from last week’s 3.28%.


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