Lower Rates Boost Refi Volume

The volume of
mortgage applications dipped slightly during the week ended December 17, the
second consecutive decline. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market
Composite Index, a measure of that volume, declined by 0.6 percent on a
seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the
Index was down 1 percent compared with the previous week.

The Refinance Index
increased 2 percent
from the previous week and was 42 percent lower than the
same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to
65.2 percent of total applications from 63.3 percent the previous week.

The seasonally
adjusted Purchase Index fell 3 percent and was down 6 percent on an unadjusted
basis. The volume was 9 percent lower than the same week one year ago.


Refi Index vs 30yr Fixed


Purchase Index vs 30yr Fixed


Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President
of Economic and Industry Forecasting, said “Mortgage applications fell last
week, driven by a 3 percent decline in purchase applications. Both conventional
and government purchase applications were down, while the average purchase loan
increased for the second straight week to $416,200 – the second highest amount
ever. The elevated loan size is an indication that activity is more on the
higher end of the market,” he said. “Home-price appreciation growth remains
faster than historical averages and inventory, particularly for starter homes,
continues to trail strong demand.”   

added, “The 30-year fixed rate decreased to 3.27 percent – its lowest level in
four weeks – and helped spur an increase in refinances across all loan types.
FHA and VA refinances jumped 4 percent and 12 percent, respectively.” 

The FHA share of total applications was unchanged
at 9.6 percent while the VA share increased to 11.5 percent from 10.6 percent
the prior week, and the USDA share of total applications decreased to 0.4
percent from 0.5 percent. The average origination balance of a loan increased
from $341,100 to $348,200 while purchase loans grew to $416,200 from $406,800.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year
fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) with origination balances at or below the conforming
loan limit of $548,250 decreased to 3.27 percent from 3.30 percent a week
earlier. Points increased to 0.41 from 0.39 and the effective rate was 3.39

Jumbo 30-year FRM, loans with balances
that exceed the conforming limit, had a rate of 3.31 percent with 0.27 point.
The prior week the rate was 3.32 percent with 0.30 point. The effective rate dipped
to 3.39 percent.

rate for 30-year FHA backed FRM decreased to 3.34 percent from 3.37 percent, with points increasing to 0.36 from
0.34. The effective rate declined to 3.44 percent.

average contract interest rate for 15-year FRM increased 1 basis point to 2.59
percent while points decreased to 0.32 from 0.34. The effective rate rose to
2.67 percent.

average contract interest rate for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs)
increased to 2.79 percent from 2.75 percent, with points unchanged at 0.28. The effective rate increased to
2.90 percent. The ARM share of applications was unchanged from the prior week
at 3.4 percent. 

MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey has been conducted
since 1990 and covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential
applications Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks, and
thrifts. Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100 and
interest rate information is based on loans with an 80 percent loan-to-value
ratio and points that include the origination fee.

MBS’s offices will
close for the holidays, reopening on Monday, January 3, 2022. Data on
application volume for the weeks ended December 24 and December 31 will be
released on January 5.


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