MBA: Spring home buying season likely to be strong as mortgage applications heat up

Purchase applications increase annually for the fourth consecutive week

Mortgage applications reversed course for the week ending March 13, 2019, according to the newest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

On an unadjusted basis, the Market Composite index rose 3% from the previous week.

MBA Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting Joel Kan explained that purchase activity picked up last week, led by a 5.5% increase in FHA loan applications, and is almost 2% higher than a year ago.

“Purchase applications have now increased year-over-year for four weeks, which signals healthy demand entering the busy spring buying season,” Kan continued. “However, the pick-up in the average loan size continues, with the average balance reaching another record high.”

Overall, Kan said with more inventory in their price range compared to first-time buyers, move-up and higher-end buyers will continue to have strong success finding a home.

The Refinance Index slightly retreated 0.2% from the previous week and the unadjusted Purchase Index moved forward 6% from a week ago and is 2% higher than the same week in 2018. Lastly, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index also increased 4% from the week before.

Here's a more detailed breakdown of this week's mortgage application data:

  • The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 38.6% of total applications, retreating from 40% the previous week.
  • The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity fell to 7.2% of total applications.
  • The Federal Housing Administration's share of mortgage apps increased from last week’s 10.3% to 10.4%.
  • The Veterans Affairs' share of applications moderately decreased from 10.4% the previous week to 10.2% this week.
  • The Department of Agriculture's share of total applications held steady from last week’s 0.6%.
  • Mortgage interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances fell from 4.67% to 4.64%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances slightly increased from last week’s 4.41% to 4.45%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA declined from last week’s 4.66% to 4.61% this week.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages moved backwards from 4.08% to 4.02%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs slightly rose to 4.09% from 4.08%.

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