Mortgage Loan Rates Fall to 2-Year Low, Mortgage Applications Rise Only Slightly

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting an increase of 1.3% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending June 21. Mortgage interest rates decreased on four of the five types of loans the MBA tracks.

On an unadjusted basis, the MBA’s composite index increased by 1% in the past week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased by 1% compared with the week ended June 14. The unadjusted purchase index fell by 2% for the week and was 9% higher year over year.

Mortgage loan rates for a top-tier 30-year fixed-rate loan fell from 3.92% to 3.8% last week, according to Mortgage News Daily. As of Tuesday night, top-tier borrowers were paying 3.79% for that loan. The yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note was unchanged last week at 2.06% as of last night’s close. A year ago, the 10-year note yielded 2.87%.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported a sharp decline in new home sales for May. Sales in the West tumbled by more than a third.

Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting, commented:

Markets last week reacted to a more dovish FOMC statement and forecast, with Treasury yields falling after the meeting. Mortgage rates dropped again for most loan types, which led to an increase in refinance activity, partly driven by a 9 percent jump in VA applications. The 30-year fixed rate has now dropped in three of the last four weeks, and at 4.06 percent, reached its lowest level since September 2017. Despite these lower rates, purchase applications decreased 2 percent, but were still considerably higher (9 percent) than a year ago.

The MBA’s refinance index increased by 3% week over week, and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing rose from 50.2% to 51.5%.

Adjustable rate mortgage loans accounted for 6.5% of all applications, up 0.4 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 decreased from 4.14% to 4.06%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped from 4.04% to 4.00%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 3.50% to 3.40%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage loan rose from 3.45% to 3.50%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan decreased from 4.12% to 4.01%.

The outcome of last week’s Federal Reserve meeting met the general expectation that the funds rate would be left alone. The question now is whether there will be one or two rate cuts in what remains of 2019 and when they will happen.