Steadily Rising Interest Rates Stifle New Mortgage Loan Applications

April 24, 2019 by Paul Ausick

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting a decrease of 7.3% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending April 19. Mortgage interest rates again increased on all five types of loans the MBA tracks.

On an unadjusted basis, the MBA’s composite index fell by 6% in the past week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased by 4% compared with the week ended April 12. The unadjusted purchase index fell by 3% for the week and was 3% higher year over year.

Mortgage loan rates for a top-tier 30-year fixed-rate loan remained unchanged at 4.25% last week, according to Mortgage News Daily. As of Tuesday night, top-tier borrowers were paying 4.36% for that loan. The yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose last week from 2.50% to 2.57% as of last night’s close. A year ago the 10-year note yielded 2.98%.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA senior vice president and chief economist said:

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has risen 10 basis points in three weeks, and is now at its highest level in over a month. Borrowers remain extremely sensitive to rate changes, which is why there has been a 28 percent drop in refinance applications over this three-week period. Purchase activity also declined, but remains almost 3 percent higher than a year ago. Borrowing costs have recently drifted higher because of ebbing geopolitical concerns, as well as signs of strengthening in the U.S. economy, including the recent data pointing to robust retail sales.

The MBA’s refinance index decreased by 11% week over week, and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing dropped from 41.5% to 39.4%.

Adjustable rate mortgage loans accounted for 6.4% of all applications, down 0.2 percentage points compared with the prior week.

According to the MBA, last week’s average mortgage loan rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 4.44% to 4.46%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 4.33% to 4.35%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 3.84% to 3.87%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage loan rose from 3.88% to 3.92%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan increased from 4.43% to 4.49%.


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