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Mortgage Applications on the Rise

Total mortgage application volume inched up 2% for the week ending May 1, after diving 18.1% a week before, according to a survey just released by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The four-week moving average fell 6% from the previous week, indicating continued seasonal weakness of raw application activity. The volume of applications for refinance inched up 1.2% while the four-week moving average of refi activity slipped 6.7%. The refi share of total mortgage applications fell to 74.4% from 75.3% the previous week, according to the MBA survey. The volume of purchase applications seems to have stabilized this week, rising 5% from a week earlier, when it had slipped 0.6%. In the preceding two weeks, the rate of decline slowed for purchase applications, to -4.2% from -11.3% a week earlier. Conventional purchase application volume gained 5.5% and government purchase application volume — think FHA-insured loan applications, here — ticked up 4.4% for the week, according to the MBA. A separate survey, conducted by Mortgage Maxx LLC found that application activity adjusted for multiple applications from a single household rose 1.4% in the same week ending May 1 after posting a 0.1% gain the previous week. Household activity in California alone rose 3% after increasing 0.2% the week before, the study found. The Mortgage Application Index — or MAX — publisher Paul Descloux, in his weekly commentary on the index, says weekly applications struggle to move higher, even despite record low mortgage rates. "With benchmarks now under pressure as credit spread anxiety heals and funding realities ascend, mortgage rates have probably reached their low for this cycle," he writes. "This may be as good as it gets." "One wild card remains in the seasonal pattern, if any, of [real estate-owned] sales," Descloux adds. Real estate-owned (REO) sales, or foreclosure sales, have traditionally had a substantial effect on lowering home prices and enticing borrowers onto the homeowner market. Visit www.mbaa.org and www.mortgagemaxx.us for further details. Write to Diana Golobay at diana.golobay@housingwire.com.

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