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MBA: Economic uncertainty slows purchase application growth

Market Composite Index grows 1.5% from the previous week

Although mortgage applications slightly increased last week, mounting economic tension continues to worry potential buyers, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“Coming out of the Memorial Day holiday, and likely impacted by the financial market volatility caused by the trade tensions, purchase application volume declined for the week,” MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni said. “Potential homebuyers may be more cautious given the heightened economic uncertainty.”

That being said, on an unadjusted basis, the Market Composite Index ticked up 1.5% for the week ending May 31, 2019, according to MBA’s weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level since the first week of 2018, driven by increasing concerns regarding the ongoing trade tensions with China and Mexico,” Fratantoni said. “Some borrowers, particularly those with larger loans, jumped on the opportunity to refinance, bringing the index and average refinance loan size to their highest levels since early April.”

The Refinance Index rose 6% from the previous week and the unadjusted Purchase Index dropped 14% from a week ago but remained 0.5% higher than the same week in 2018. Lastly, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index slid 2% from the week before.

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

  • The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 42.2% from last week’s 39.7%.
  • The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 7.1% of total applications.
  • The Federal Housing Administration‘s share of mortgage apps slightly fell from last week’s 9.6% to 9.5%.
  • The Veterans Affairs‘ share of applications moved forward to 11.3% from last week’s 11.2%.
  • The Department of Agriculture‘s share of total applications declined from last week’s 0.7% to 0.6%.
  • Mortgage interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) slid from last week’s rate of 4.43% to 4.23%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350) decreased from last week’s 4.18% to 4.09%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA dropped from last week’s 4.33%to 4.24%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages retreated to 3.65% from 3.73% the week prior.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs fell to 3.62% from last week’s 3.74%.

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