MBA: Mortgage Applications Decline, Despite Rates Hitting New Historic Lows

Mortgage interest rates declined to the lowest levels in the history of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey during the week ended April 20.  Nonetheless, the MBA’s seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index was down 3.8 percent and 3.3 percent on an unadjusted basis. 

After surging 13.5 percent during the week ended April 13 the Refinance Index fell back 5.6 percent with the Conventional Refinance Index decreasing 6.1 percent and the Government Refinance Index decreasing 2.1 percent.  Applications for refinancing represented 73.4 percent of all mortgage applications during the week compared to 75.2 percent a week earlier.

The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was up 2.7 percent from the previous week while the unadjusted Purchase Index was 3.6 percent higher than a week earlier and unchanged from the same week in 2011.     

The four week moving average for the composite index was up 1.23 percent and the Refinance Index 1.92 percent.  The moving average for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was down 0.67 percent.     

Purchase Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

Click Here to View the Purchase Applications Chart

Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

Click Here to View the Refinance Applications Chart

Every mortgage rate fell to a new historic low during the week and all effective rates decreased as well.  The contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) with a conforming balance of less than $417,500 averaged 4.04 percent with 0.40 points, down from an average of 45.05 percent with 0.45 percent a week earlier.  Mortgages with jumbo balances (greater than $417,500) fell to 4.27 percent with 0.44 point from 4.36 percent with 0.36 point.

 FHA-backed 30-year FRM had an average rate of 3.81 percent, down from 3.83 percent with points decreasing to 0.52 from 0.61 and the average rate for a 15-year FRM decreased one basis point to 3.32 percent with points unchanged at 0.41.

 Hybrid 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) decreased from 2.83 percent with 0.35 point to 2.81 percent with 0.37 point.  Applications for ARMs increased to 5.6 percent of all applications from 5.3 percent the previous week.

All interest rates are for 80 percent loan-to-value loans and points include the origination fee. 

MBA data for the month of March show that 58.8 percent of applications for refinancing were for 30-year FRM and 23.1 percent were for 15-year FRM.  Applications for “other” fixed-rate mortgages with amortization schedules other than 15 or 30 year terms accounted for 12.8 percent of applications and ARMs for 5.2 percent.

MBA’s survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.  Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.

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