Mortgage Loan Rates Tick Higher, Applications Slip 2%

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The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting a decrease of 2% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending February 17. During the week, mortgage loan rates increased on all four types of fixed-rate loans and decreased on adjustable rate mortgages.

On an unadjusted basis, the composite index increased by 1% week over week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased by 3% compared with the week ended February 10. The unadjusted purchase index increased by 2% for the week and is now 10% higher year over year.

The MBA’s refinance index decreased by 1% week over week, and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing slipped from 46.9% to 46.2%, its lowest level since November of 2008.

Adjustable rate mortgage loans accounted for 7.3% of all applications, down from 7.5% in the prior week.

Mortgage News Daily commented on the relatively narrow range in which interest rates have moved since last November:

The outright numbers are less important here. They can vary quite a bit based on multiple variables. The fact that rates have been sideways for so long is more relevant.  In fact, rates haven’t merely been sideways. The range has been growing progressively more narrow over the past several months.

While this type of “consolidation” is not uncommon in the wake of big market movement, it does mean that rates will soon be forced to choose a direction. Such breakouts tend to see extra momentum. In other words, we’re increasingly due for a bigger move. If you roll the dice on that move being toward lower rates, there’s additional reward for that risk.  For most borrowers, however, that potential for reward is overshadowed by the increased risk of a big move toward higher rates.

According to the MBA, last week’s average mortgage loan rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 4.32% to 4.36%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 4.28% to 4.29%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 3.55% to 3.56%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage loan decreased from 3.34% to 3.31%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan increased from 4.12% to 4.14%.