Mortgage Applications Rebound After Holiday Slump
Mortgage applications volumes increased in two weekly surveys. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) survey of gross mortgage applications increased 21% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending January 29 compared to one week ago. Applications, according to the MBA, returned to levels not seen since mid-December. The Mortgage Maxx index that’s adjusted to reflect the number of households that applied for mortgages increased 3.1% for the week ending January 29 compared to one week ago. “Mortgage application volume rebounded last week, returning the purchase and refinance indexes to levels from mid-December,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics. MBA’s refinance index increased 26.3% from the previous week and the seasonally adjusted purchase increased 10.3% during the same time frame. Refinance mortgages took a 69.2% share of total application volume, up from a 67.6% share a week ago. Adjustable-rate mortgages took a 4.7% share, up from 4.5% last week. “Rates continue to hover around 5 percent, quite low by historical standards, but are well above the record lows seen in 2009, and hence are not generating substantial refi volume,” Fratantoni said. “We expect that rates will rise over the next few months as the Federal Reserve winds down its MBS purchase program, and this will likely lead to a decline in refinance volume.” Mortgage Maxx said applications activity is starting to increase as potential homebuyers look to get in the market in March, the typical start to the spring selling season. The firm said the homebuyer tax credit may pull some activity forward in February, but said it’s unclear what will happen when the tax credit expires and the Federal Reserve ends its mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchase program. “The large December fall-off in home sales followed the anticipated end of the last stimulus. This summer may experience another unintended collapse in seasonal activity,” Mortgage Maxx said. “The Fed’s withdrawing from the MBS market possibly triggering higher mortgage rates appears as if it couldn’t come at a more awkward nexus.” As HousingWire previously reported, some believe the homebuyer tax credit could get extended if housing stalls this summer. Write to Austin Kilgore.