Slightly Higher Mortgage-Loan Rates Reduce Number of Applications

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting a decrease of 3.4% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending June 14. Mortgage interest rates increased slightly on three of the five types of loans the MBA tracks.

On an unadjusted basis, the MBA’s composite index decreased by 4% in the last week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index also decreased by 4% compared with that of the week ending June 7. The unadjusted purchase index fell by 5% for the week and was 4% higher year over year.

Mortgage loan rates for a top-tier 30-year fixed-rate loans slipped from 3.94% to 3.92% last week, according to Mortgage News Daily. As of Tuesday night, top-tier borrowers were paying 3.88% for that loan. The yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note dropped last week from 2.14% to 2.06% as of last night’s close. A year ago, the 10-year note yielded 2.92%.

Loan rates are tracking demand for sovereign bonds. After European Central Bank Chairman Mario Draghi said Tuesday that he is prepared to propose further stimulus, demand for bonds rose and interest rates fell. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is not expected to announce a cut to the Fed’s policy rate Wednesday afternoon.

Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said:

After a six-week streak, mortgage rates for 30-year loans increased slightly, which led to a pullback in overall refinance activity. Borrowers were sensitive to rising rates, but the refinance share of applications was still at its highest level since January 2018, and refinance activity was at its second highest level this year. … Strong demand from first-time buyers and low unemployment continue to push this year’s purchase activity above a year ago.

The MBA’s refinance index decreased by 4% week over week and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing rose from 49.8% to 50.2%.

Adjustable-rate mortgage loans accounted for 6.1% of all applications, down 1.8 percentage points compared with the prior week’s.

According to the MBA, last week’s average mortgage-loan rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 4.12% to 4.14%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remained unchanged at 4.04%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 3.53% to 3.50%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage loan rose from 3.43% to 3.45%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan increased from 4.09% to 4.12%.