Prospective mortgage borrowers submitted 4.2% fewer applications in the week ending March 19, following the previous week’s 1.9% dip, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) survey of gross mortgage application volume. A separate survey of household applications also dove this week. MBA said the volume of applications submitted for home refinance fell 7.1% from the previous week, bringing the refinance share down to 65% of all applications submitted from 67.3% the week before. The volume of applications submitted for home purchase gained 2.7%. The share of applications submitted for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) rose to 4.8% of all applications, from 4.6% a week earlier, MBA said. At the same time, the Mortgage Maxx survey, which adjusts the gross volume to reflect the number of households participating in the application process, found application activity fell 7.8%. The decline in the Mortgage Application Index — or MAX — comes this week after a 4% growth the previous week. The publisher of the index called this week’s tumble in application activity “a clear sign that mortgage activity remains dismal” and suggested “2010 does not bode well for housing.” MAX publisher Paul Descloux writes in weekly commentary on the index that “any potential peak in activity to take advantage of the tax credit will be over the next two to three weeks as executable paperwork alone can easily take two weeks. But since buying a house is a multi-month process for many, incentivized transactions most likely have already been measured by the MAX.” Write to Diana Golobay.

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