NEW! CalculatedRisk Newsletter on Real Estate (Ad Free) Read it here.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

MBA: Mortgage Purchase Applications Lowest in 12 Years

by Calculated Risk on 1/06/2010 08:56:00 AM

The MBA reports: Mortgage Applications Drop the Week of Christmas and Remain Flat the Week After

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the weeks ending December 25, 2009 and January 1, 2010. For the week ending December 25, 2009, the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 22.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior week. For the week ending January 1, 2010, this index increased 0.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. ...

For the week ending December 25, 2009, the Refinance Index decreased 30.5 percent from the previous week and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 4.0 percent from one week earlier. The following week, the Refinance Index decreased 1.6 percent and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3.6 percent.
...
For the week ending January 1, 2010, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.18 percent with points decreasing to 1.28.
MBA Purchase Index Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the MBA Purchase Index and four week moving average since 1990.

Note: In the past the MBA index was somewhat predictive of future sales - and was a favorite indicator of Alan Greenspan, but it has been questionable for some time. The increase in 2007 was due to the method used to construct the index: a combination of lender failures, and borrowers filing multiple applications pushed up the index in 2007 even though activity was actually declining. Recently there has been a substantial number of cash buyers, so the MBA index missed the strength of the recent existing home sales increase.

Despite the problems, it is hard to ignore the sharp decline in purchase applications since mid-October. The four week moving average is now at the lowest level since November 1997.