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The Brexit impact is real: Refis jump to 18-month high

30-year conforming loans hit lowest level in more than 3 years

Brexit’s impact on mortgage applications is in and looks like borrowers cashed in on the ultra-low interest rates.

Refinance applications have fluctuated for a lot of this year, bringing out headlines ranging from “MBA: Refinance once again drives mortgage applications” to “MBA: Purchase apps rise as refi apps fade.”

Last week’s mortgage application news underwhelmed in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, with applications posting a drop for the week. It seemed like Brexit did nothing to spur people into homeownership, that’s until this week’s news came out.

Mortgage applications surged 14.2% from one week earlier, significantly driven by refinance activity, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 1.

The Refinance Index soared 21% from the previous week to the highest level since January 2015, while the Purchase Index only increased 4% from one week earlier. Up until this point, the refinance index kept hovering around 2% to 7% increases and decreases each week.

Even more, the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 61.6% of total applications, the highest level since February 2016. This is drastically up from 58.1% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 5.6% of total applications.

“Interest rates continued to drop last week as markets assessed the impact of Brexit, downgrading the likelihood of additional rate hikes by the Fed, and mortgage rates for 30-year conforming loans dropped to their lowest level in over 3 years,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist. “In response, refinance application volume jumped almost 21% last week to its highest level since January 2015.”

The news, while welcomed, doesn’t come as too much of a shocker. The reason mortgage applications underwhelmed last week is because in the wake of the news surrounding Brexit, Erin Lantz, Zillow vice president of mortgages, said, “We expect mortgage rates to reach historic lows in the wake of the Brexit vote, as investors flock to relatively safer investments in U.S. mortgage-backed securities.”

Yet applications didn’t show any signs of Brexit given the delay in impact from U.S. Treasury Yields taking effect on interest rates. Meanwhile global investors continue to "gobble up" 10-year Treasury notes.

Now with more time for the impact to make it’s way through U.S. Treasury Yields to interest rates, here’s how mortgage rates performed.

the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) plummeted to its lowest level since May 2013, 3.66%, from 3.75%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) dropped to 3.67% from 3.74%, which is its lowest level since January 2011.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to its lowest level since May 2013, 3.56%, from 3.61%.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to its lowest level since May 2013, declining to 2.96%, down from 3.02%.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to its lowest level since April 2015, 2.85%, from 2.88%.

The Federal Housing Administration’s share of total applications decreased to 9.5% from 10.6% the week prior, as the Veteran Affairs’ share of total applications increased to 12.8% from 12.2% the week prior. The United States Department of Agriculture share of total applications decreased to 0.6% from 0.7% the week prior.

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