Mortgage Loan Applications Slipped Last Week, Loan Rates Showed Little Movement

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The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting a decrease of 5% in the group’s seasonally adjusted composite index for the week ending December 13. Mortgage interest rate changes were mixed on the five loan types the MBA tracks.

On an unadjusted basis, the MBA’s composite index decreased by 6% in the past week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index slipped by 2% compared with the week ended December 6. The unadjusted purchase index dropped by 6% for the week and was 10% higher year over year.

Mortgage loan rates for a top-tier 30-year fixed-rate loan inched lower last week to 3.78%, 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 1.84% to 1.87% as of last night’s close. A year ago, the 10-year note yielded 2.86%.

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

Mortgage rates were mostly unchanged, even as a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China caused rates to inch forward at the end of last week. With rates showing little meaningful movement, both refinance and purchase activity took a step back. As we move into the slowest time of the year for home sales, purchase application volume is declining but continues to outperform year-ago levels, when rates were much higher. … 2019 was another year of inadequate housing supply in relation to demand. The good news is that the tide could be slowly turning for potential buyers. Housing starts and permits rose strongly in November, and homebuilder confidence has surged to a level not seen since 1999.

The MBA’s refinance index decreased by 7% week over week and the percentage of all new applications that were seeking refinancing slipped from 62.4% to 62.2%.

Adjustable-rate mortgage loans accounted for 4.6% of all applications, down by 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 remained unchanged at 3.98%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 3.90% to 3.96%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 3.37% to 3.40%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage loan dropped from 3.52% to 3.28%. Rates on a 30-year FHA-backed fixed-rate loan remained unchanged at 3.79%.

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