Mortgage Loan Rates Moved Sideways Last Week, Applications Down 5%

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The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting a decrease of 4.9% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending December 15. Mortgage loan rates dipped last week on three of five loan types that the MBA tracks.

On an unadjusted basis, the composite index decreased by 6% week over week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index also decreased by 6% compared with the week ended December 8. The unadjusted purchase index decreased by 9% for the week and is now just 1% higher year over year.

The MBA’s refinance index decreased by 3% week over week, and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing rose from 52.4% to 53.9%, its highest level since last December. With home values rising in most regions of the country, refinancing at still low rates could continue rising as well.

Adjustable rate mortgage loans accounted for 5.6% of all applications, unchanged from the prior week.

Mortgage interest rates moved higher this week, and you might think that was related to the Republican tax bill that is about to become law. You would be wrong, according to Matthew Graham of Mortgage News Daily:

The move in rates is it’s own animal, having to do with the year-end trading environment in bond markets and other esoteric motivations not related to any headline events.  As unsatisfying as that may be, it’s actually better than giving credit to the tax bill for serving as the inception of some new thrust toward even higher rates.  That doesn’t mean such a thrust isn’t on the horizon, but if it is, it’s not a factor of anything that happened [Tuesday].

According to the MBA, last week’s average mortgage loan rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped from 4.20% to 4.16%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 4.11% to 4.14%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked down from 3.61% to 3.60%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage loan increased from 3.42% to 3.49%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan decreased from 4.13% to 4.11%.

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