Housing

Mortgage Loan Applications Stage Comeback, FHA Loan Rates Dip Near Annual Low

Paul Ausick

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting an increase of 3.8% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending December 6. The prior week’s total includes an adjustment for the Thanksgiving holiday. Mortgage interest rate changes were mixed on the five loan types the MBA tracks.

On an unadjusted basis, the MBA’s composite index increased by 47% in the past week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index slipped by 0.4% compared with the week ended November 29. The unadjusted purchase index rose by 35% for the week and was 5% higher year over year.

Mortgage loan rates for a top-tier 30-year fixed-rate loan inched up last week to 3.81%, according to Mortgage News Daily. As of Tuesday night, top-tier borrowers were paying 3.79% for that loan. The week-over-week yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note increased from 1.78% to 1.84% as of last night’s close. A year ago, the 10-year note yielded 2.85%.

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

Low mortgage rates continue to be the trend as 2019 comes to an end, and mortgage applications responded accordingly last week, rising 3.8 percent. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate remained under 4 percent for the fourth straight week, and rates for FHA loans declined close to their lowest level of the year. The decrease in FHA rates led to a 27 percent jump in refinance applications for those loans, and their share of refinance activity – at 14 percent – was the highest since 2016.

The MBA’s refinance index increased by 9% week over week, and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing rose from 59% to 62.4%.

Adjustable-rate mortgage loans accounted for 5% of all applications, up by 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 ticked up from 3.97% to 3.98%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked down from 3.91% to 3.90%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage remained unchanged at 3.37%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage loan jumped from 3.28% to 3.52%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan fell from 3.83% to 3.79%.