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MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest Weekly Survey

From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Mortgage applications decreased 2.5 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 19, 2021.

... The Refinance Index decreased 5 percent from the previous week and was 13 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 26 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“The 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to 3.36 percent last week and has now risen 50 basis points since the beginning of the year, in turn shutting off refinance incentives for many borrowers. Refinance activity dropped to its slowest pace since September 2020, with declines in both conventional and government applications. Mortgage rates have moved higher in tandem with Treasury yields, as the outlook for the U.S. economy continues to improve amidst the faster vaccine rollout and states easing pandemic-related restrictions,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Purchase applications were strong over the week, driven both by households seeking more living space and younger households looking to enter homeownership. The purchase index increased for the fourth consecutive week and was up 26 percent from last year’s pace. The average purchase loan balance increased again, both by quickening home-price growth and a rise in higher-balance conventional applications.”

Added Kan, “Inadequate housing inventory continues to put upward pressure on home prices. As both home-price growth and mortgage rates continue this upward trend, we may see affordability challenges become more severe if new and existing supply does not significantly pick up.”
...
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($548,250 or less) increased to 3.36 percent from 3.28 percent, with points increasing to 0.42 from 0.41 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Click on graph for larger image.


The first graph shows the refinance index since 1990.

With low rates, the index remains elevated, but falling as rates rise.

The second graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index

According to the MBA, purchase activity is up 26% year-over-year unadjusted.

Note: For the next 8 or 9 weeks, the MBA index will be up sharply year-over-year since purchase activity collapsed in late March 2020 in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Note: Red is a four-week average (blue is weekly).

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