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Mortgage applications decrease slightly, but refinance index jumps

Apps still up more than 16% over last year

Mortgage applications decreased 0.5% last week after a 3.8% jump at the end of October, according to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). That’s despite the 30-year fixed rate decreasing to 2.89% — an all-time survey low.

The refinance index, however, increased by 1% from the previous week – and is a robust 67% higher than the same week in 2019. That 1% jump is the highest since August, according to Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased 3% from one week earlier, and the unadjusted purchase index decreased 5% compared with the previous week – although the unadjusted purchase index still 16% higher than the same week one year ago.

“Homebuyer demand is still strong overall, and activity was up 16.5% from a year ago,” Kan said. “However, inadequate housing supply is putting upward pressure on home prices and is impacting affordability – especially for first-time buyers and lower-income buyers. The trend in larger average loan application sizes and growth in loan amounts points to the continued rise in home prices, as well as the strength in the upper end of the market.”

The purchase market continued its recent slump, with the index decreasing for the sixth time in seven weeks to its lowest level since May 2020.

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

  • The FHA’s share of mortgage apps fell to 10.6% from 11.1%
  • The VA share of applications increased to 12.6% from 12.2%
  • The USDA share of total applications decreased to 0.4% from 0.5%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) decreased to 2.98% from 3.01% – a survey low
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) fell to 3.13% from 3.18%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged at 3.08%
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged at 2.55%
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs fell to 42% from 2.79%

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