The number of mortgage applications filed in the U.S. fell 2.4% for the week ended March 9 as refinancing activity declined, an industry trade group said.
The Mortgage Bankers Association released its Market Composite Index – a measure of monthly loan application volume on Wednesday. The report shows the refinancing index falling 4.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis, making it the fourth consecutive weekly decline.
Home purchases, on the other hand, soared as the MBA's purchase index rose 4.4%.
Still, the percentage of mortgage activity tied to home refinancings fell to 75.1%, compared to 77% a week earlier.
"Applications for home purchase increased again last week, coinciding with another strong job market report," said Michael Fratantoni, vice president of research and economics for the MBA. "Purchase applications are now almost 12 percent above the level one month ago, even after adjusting for typical seasonal patterns. However, this level of purchase activity, adjusted or unadjusted, was essentially unchanged when compared to the same time last year. Purchase activity remains subdued and within the narrow range we have seen since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit in 2010."
The percentage of the refinancing volume associated with loans in the Home Affordable Refinance Program hit 30% in the most recent survey period. Most of the HARP loans possess loan-to-value ratios well above 90%, which suggests more underwater homeowners are getting aid through HARP, the MBA said.
The average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with conforming loan limits remained unchanged at 4.06% last week, while the interest rate for the 30-year, FRM jumbo loan grew from 4.33% to 4.39%. The 30-year, FRM backed by the FHA saw its rate decline from 3.87% to 3.82%.
Meanwhile, the 15-year FRM continued to hover at 3.36%, and the 5//1 ARM grew from 2.78% to 2.81%.