Mortgage Applications Back Up in MBA Weekly Survey

MBA NewsLink Staff

March 13, 2019

Mortgage applications rose for the fourth time in five weeks, buoyed by FHA loan activity and a slight decrease in key interest rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported this morning in its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 8.

The Market Composite Index increased by 2.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased by 3 percent compared to the previous week.

The (unadjusted) Refinance Index decreased by 0.2 percent from the previous week. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 38.6 percent of total applications from 40.0 percent the previous week.

The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased by 4 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased by 6 percent compared to the previous week and was 2 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 10.4 percent from 10.3 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 10.2 percent from 10.4 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.6 percent the week prior.

"Led by a 5.5 percent increase in FHA loan applications, purchase activity picked up last week and was almost 2 percent higher than a year ago," said Joel Kan, MBA Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "Purchase applications have now increased year-over-year for four weeks, which signals healthy demand entering the busy spring buying season. However, the pick-up in the average loan size continues, with the average balance reaching another record high. With more inventory in their price range compared to first-time buyers, move-up and higher-end buyers continue to have strong success finding a home."

MBA reported the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) decreased to 4.64 percent from 4.67 percent, with points increasing to 0.47 from 0.44 (including origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350) increased to 4.45 percent from 4.41 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.25 (including origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by FHA decreased to 4.61 percent from 4.66 percent, with points decreasing to 0.47 from 0.48 (including origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.02 percent from 4.08 percent, with points decreasing to 0.44 from 0.46 (including origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages increased to 4.09 percent from 4.08 percent, with points decreasing to 0.26 from 0.39 (including origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The ARM share of activity decreased to 7.2 percent of total applications.

The survey covers more than 75 percent of all U.S. retail and consumer direct residential mortgage applications and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.

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