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MBA: Mortgage applications rise again, but how long will this growth last?

Expert says economic uncertainty could be hindering growth

Although mortgage applications slightly rose for the week ending May 17, 2019, ongoing trade concerns could be hindering potential growth, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The MBA's latest weekly Mortgage Applications Survey showed that, on an unadjusted basis, the Market Composite Index grew 2.4% from the previous week. 

Mortgage rates fell for the fourth straight week, with the 30-year fixed rate mortgage hitting its lowest level since January 2018, leading to a rebound in refinances,” MBA Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting Joel Kan said. “The refinance index increased 8% to its highest level in over a month, and once again there was an increase in average refinance loan sizes, as borrowers with larger balances responded accordingly to lower rates. Purchase activity declined again but remained around 7% higher than a year ago.”

“We’re keeping a close eye on whether there may be some adverse effects of the ongoing global trade disputes on overall demand,” Kan continued. “Some potential homebuyers may be delaying their home search until there’s more certainty.”

As Kan noted, the Refinance Index increased 8% from the previous week and the unadjusted Purchase Index dropped 3% from a week ago but remained 7% higher than the same week in 2018. Lastly, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 2% from the week before.

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

  • The refinance share of mortgage activity rose from last week’s 37.9% to 40.5%.
  • The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity fell to 6.8% of total applications.
  • The Federal Housing Administration's share of mortgage apps fell from last week’s 10.1% to 9.4%.
  • The Veterans Affairs' share of applications moved forward to 11% from last week’s 10.6%.
  • The Department of Agriculture's share of total applications remained unchanged from last week’s 0.6%.
  • Mortgage interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) retreated from 4.4% to 4.33%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350) held steady from last week’s 4.24%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA inched forward from last week’s 4.32 to 4.34%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages also held its ground form last week’s 3.78%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs fell to 3.57% from last week’s 3.82%.

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