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Refis lead the way as mortgage applications rise 1.7%

Purchase apps see slight gain, but still way up over last year

After two weeks of slight declines, mortgage applications regained their footing last week, rising 1.7% from the week prior, according to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The refinance index led the rebound after it gained 3% from the previous week, however, according to Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, refinance activity has been somewhat volatile over the past few months. Nevertheless, refis remained 80% higher than the same time a year ago.

“With the 30-year fixed rate at MBA’s all-time survey low of 3%, conventional refinances rose 5%. However, the government refinance index decreased for the first time in a month, driven by a slowdown in VA refinance activity,” Kan said.

Overall, refinances gained to two-thirds’ share of mortgage activity last week after they rose to 66.7% from 66.1% the week prior.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, applications for purchases rose 0.2% and jumped 24% compared to last year as average loan size reached another record high at $372,600, the report said.

“These results highlight just how strong the upper end of the market is right now, with outsized growth rates in the higher loan size categories. Furthermore, housing inventory shortages have pushed national home prices considerably higher on an annual basis,” Kan said.

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

  • The FHA’s share of mortgage apps fell to 11.7% from 11.8%.
  • The VA share of applications fell to 11.4% from 12.6%.
  • The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.5% from the week prior.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) fell to 3% from 3.02%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) fell to 3.28% from 3.33%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.14% from 3.12%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 2.6% from 2.61%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 3.05% from 2.86%.

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