MBA: Economic worries slow growth of mortgage applications


Mortgage applications inched forward slightly for the week ending on March 15, 2019, according to the newest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association‘s weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

On an unadjusted basis, the Market Composite Index moved forward 1.6% from the previous week.

MBA Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting Joel Kan said mortgage rates declined once again, as concerns about the slowing global economy and status of Brexit drove investors’ demand for U.S. Treasuries.

“Rates for most loan types were at their lowest levels in over a year, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate falling to 4.55% – it’s lowest reading since last February,” Kan continued. “Although lower rates sparked a 3.5% increase in refinance applications, purchase activity was up only slightly last week and from a year ago.”

Furthermore, Kan noted entry-level housing supply remains weak and is likely hindering some would-be first-time buyers from finding a home.

All in all, this – along with faster growth in the higher-price tiers – is why the average loan application size has risen to a new high for three straight weeks, according to Kan.

The Refinance Index slightly grew 4% from the previous week and the unadjusted Purchase Index rose 1% from a week ago and is also 1% higher than the same week in 2018. Lastly, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index also increased 0.3% from the week before.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of this week’s mortgage application data:

  • The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 39.2% of total applications, moderately increasing from 38.6% the previous week.
  • The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity fell to 7.1% of total applications.
  • The Federal Housing Administration‘s share of mortgage apps held steady from last week’s 10.4%.
  • The Veterans Affairs‘ share of applications climbed from 10.2% the previous week to 10.6% this week.
  • The Department of Agriculture‘s share of total applications held its ground from last week’s 0.6%.
  • Mortgage interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances fell from 4.64% to 4.55%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances slightly decreased from last week’s 4.45% to 4.37%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA declined from last week’s 4.61% to 4.59% this week.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages moved backwards from 4.02% to 3.97%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs fell to  3.99% from 4.09%.

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