Mortgage Loan Rates Increased Again Last Week, Applications Slide

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The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting a decrease of 6.6% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending February 16. Mortgage loan rates rose again last week on four of five loan types that the MBA tracks. All three popular loan types posted multiyear highs last week.

On an unadjusted basis, the composite index decreased by 3% week over week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index fell 6% compared with the week ended February 9. The unadjusted purchase index increased by 1% for the week and is now 3% higher year over year.

The MBA’s refinance index decreased by 7% week over week, and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing fell from 46.5% to 44.4%, its lowest level since last July.

Adjustable rate mortgage loans accounted for 6.4% of all applications, up 0.1 percentage points from the prior week.

While mortgage loan rates have been increasing steadily, but slowly, for most of the year so far, the somewhat better news is that rates remain in line with their highest levels in more than four years. That indicates one of two things, according to Matthew Graham at Mortgage News Daily: either current rates are bumping up against a ceiling that they won’t be able to break through or rates are just taking a breath before crashing through the ceiling.

According to the MBA, last week’s average mortgage loan rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to its highest level since January 2014, up from 4.57% to 4.64%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 4.55% to 4.62%, also a high since January 2014. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 4.00% to 4.02%, its highest level since April 2011.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage loan decreased from 3.74% to 3.72%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan increased from 4.54% to 4.58%, the highest level since April 2011.