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Mortgage applications increase for second straight week

FHA, VA applications see big jump

Borrowers looking to refinance their VA and FHA loans contributed to another uptick in mortgage applications for the week ending Dec. 18, according to the latest report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Mortgage applications jumped 0.8% a week after the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped five basis points to 2.85%, the trade group noted. The 30-year rate is up to 2.86% in the most recent MBA survey, according to Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting

“Mortgage rates are closing the year at record lows,” Kan said. “The 30-year fixed rate – at 2.86% – is a full percentage point below a year ago. Last week’s increase in refinance applications was driven by FHA and VA activity, while conventional refinances saw a slight decline.”

Kan added that overall refinance activity is 124% higher than the same period from last year, as borrowers continue to seek lower monthly payments or different loan terms.

“Purchase applications decreased for the second time in three weeks, as both conventional and government applications saw a drop-off,” Kan said. “Despite the decline, purchase applications remained 26% higher than the same week a year ago, and the average loan balance reached another record high.”

The unadjusted purchase index also increased, rising 1% from the previous week. The refinance index rose 4% from the previous week, and is up 124% from the previous year.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 74.8% of total applications, up from an even 72.7% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity also increased to 1.9% of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 11.5% from 11% the week prior. The VA share of total applications saw a big increase to 13.8% from 12.1% the week prior.

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

  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 2.86% from 2.85%, which was a survey low
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) decreased to 3.10% from 3.12%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 2.90% from 2.96%
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to a survey-low 2.43% from 2.49% – the third consecutive week where 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rates hit a survey-low
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs creased to 2.71% from 2.58%

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