Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey

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Adam DeSanctis
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2021)Mortgage applications decreased 2.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 12, 2021. 

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 4 percent from the previous week and was 39 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 5 percent higher than the same week one year ago.  

"Mortgage application activity was mixed last week, as the run-up in rates continues to reduce incentives for potential refinance borrowers. The 30-year fixed rate increased to its highest level since June 2020, and all other surveyed rates were either flat or increased," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "After reaching a recent high in the last week of January, the refinance index has since fallen 26 percent to its lowest level since September 2020. Rates have jumped 36 basis points since the end of January, and last week refinance activity fell across all loan types."  

Added Kan, "The purchase market helped offset the slump in refinances. Activity was up 5 percent from a year ago, as the recovering job market and demographic factors drive demand, despite ongoing supply and affordability constraints."

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 62.9 percent of total applications from 64.5 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 2.7 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 11.7 percent from 11.6 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 10.3 percent from 11.1 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.4 percent the week prior.  

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($548,250 or less) increased to 3.28 percent from 3.26 percent, with points decreasing to 0.41 from  0.43 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.  The effective rate increased from last week.  

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $548,250) remained unchanged at 3.34 percent, with points decreasing to 0.40 from 0.50 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.  

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.25 percent from 3.20 percent, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.37 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans.  The effective rate increased from last week.  

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 2.67 percent from 2.63 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.37 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 2.82 percent from 2.69 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.37 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week. 

If you would like to purchase a subscription of MBA's Weekly Applications Survey, please visit www.mba.org/WeeklyApps, contact mbaresearch@mba.org or click here.  

The survey covers over 75 percent of all 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.