Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MBA: "Mortgage Applications Increase by 49 Percent"

by Bill McBride on 1/14/2015 07:01:00 AM

From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Increase by 49 Percent, Largest Weekly Gain Since November 2008

Mortgage applications increased 49.1 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 9, 2015....

The Refinance Index increased 66 percent from the previous week to the highest level since July 2013. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 24 percent from one week earlier to the highest level since September 2013.
...
“The US economy and job market continued to show signs of strength, but weakness abroad and tumbling oil prices have led to further declines in longer-term interest rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist.

“Mortgage rates reached their lowest level since May of 2013, and refinance application volume soared, more than doubling on an unadjusted basis, and up 66 percent after adjusting for the fact that the previous week included the New Year’s holiday. ... In addition to the drop in rates, and news of improvement in the job market, there was additional positive news for prospective homebuyers with evidence that credit availability has increased somewhat, and with FHA’s announcement of a decrease in their mortgage insurance premiums. Purchase application volume increased by almost 24 percent, with stronger growth for conventional applications than for government loans. Purchase application volume was at its highest level since September 2013, increased on a year over year basis in the aggregate, and notably increased across most loan size categories, particularly for the conforming, middle of the market loan segments that had been weak for much of the past year. FHA purchase application volume was up by 17 percent for the week on a seasonally adjusted basis.”

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 3.89 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, from 4.01 percent, with points decreasing to 0.23 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Mortgage Refinance Index Click on graph for larger image.


The first graph shows the refinance index.

2014 was the lowest year for refinance activity since year 2000.

Even with the recent sharp decline in rates, mortgage rates would have to decline further for there to be a really large refinance boom.  But it looks like 2015 will see more activity than in 2014, especially from FHA loans after January 26th.

Mortgage Purchase Index The second graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index.  

According to the MBA, the unadjusted purchase index is up 2% from a year ago.

Note: Seasonal adjustments are difficult early in the year for all data, so this might be overstating the increase in activity.