The mortgage market just had its strongest week in months

Purchase applications rose 35% from the prior weeks

Falling mortgage rates last week brought increased demand.

Total home loan applications increased 2.8% for the week ending Dec. 1 compared to the previous week, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 7.17% last week.

Slower inflation and the confidence financial markets have that we are nearing the end of the Fed’s hiking cycle has brought mortgage rates to the lowest level since August.

Purchase applications rose by 35% week-over-week on an unadjusted basis, though they were 17% lower than a year ago. According to Joel Kan, MBA’s vice president and deputy chief economist, they were mostly held back by “low inventory and still-challenging affordability conditions.”

Meanwhile, refinance applications posted their strongest week in two months. The refinance index rose by 14% on a weekly basis and was 10% higher than a year ago. Refinance applications exceeded their 2022 levels for the second week in a row, a first since late 2021.  

“The overall level of refinance applications is still very low, but recent increases could signal that 2023 was the low point in this cycle for refinance activity, consistent with our originations forecast,” Kan said in a statement.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 7.4% of total applications, down from 8.1% last week.

The share of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan activity increased to 15%, down from 13.5% the week prior. The share of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan activity was 12.8%, up from 12.6% over the previous week, while the share of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan activity remained unchanged at 0.5%.

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