Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey

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Adam DeSanctis
adesanctis@mba.org
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 23, 2020)Mortgage applications increased 0.8 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending December 18, 2020. 

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 1 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 4 percent from the previous week and was 124 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 7 percent compared with the previous week and was 26 percent higher than the same week one year ago.  

"Mortgage rates are closing the year at record lows. The 30-year fixed rate - at 2.86 percent - is a full percentage point below a year ago. Last week's increase in refinance applications was driven by FHA and VA activity, while conventional refinances saw a slight decline. Overall refinance activity was 124 percent higher than in 2019, as borrowers continue to seek lower monthly payments or different loan terms," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "Purchase applications decreased for the second time in three weeks, as both conventional and government applications saw a drop-off. Despite the decline, purchase applications remained 26 percent higher than the same week a year ago, and the average loan balance reached another record high."  

Added Kan, "There are still signs of relative strength in the housing market as 2020 ends. However, housing affordability will be worth monitoring next year. The lower loan size segment of the market - particularly for entry-level and first-time buyers - continues to be impacted by rapidly increasing home prices and tight inventory."  

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 74.8 percent of total applications from 72.7 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 1.9 percent of total applications.  

The FHA share of total applications increased to 11.5 percent from 11.0 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications increased to 13.8 percent from 12.1 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 ($510,400 or less) increased to 2.86 percent from 2.85 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.  

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) decreased to 3.10 percent from 3.12 percent, with points decreasing to 0.29 from 0.33 (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 decreased to 2.90 percent from 2.96 percent, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.42 (including the 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 2.43 percent from 2.49 percent, with points decreasing to 0.28 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.  

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 2.71 percent from 2.58 percent, with points increasing to 0.48 from 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week. 

Please Note:

MBA Offices will be closed Thursday, December 24, 2020, and will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2021. Due to the holiday, the results for the weeks ending December 25, 2020, and January 1, 2021, will be released on January 6, 2021.  

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.