Wednesday, March 18, 2020

MBA: Mortgage Applications Decreased in Latest Weekly Survey

by Calculated Risk on 3/18/2020 07:00:00 AM

From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey

Mortgage applications decreased 8.4 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 13, 2020.

... The Refinance Index decreased 10 percent from the previous week and was 402 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index remained unchanged compared with the previous week and was 11 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
...
“The ongoing situation around the coronavirus led to further stress in the financial markets late last week, with unprecedented volatility and widening spreads. This drove mortgage rates back up to their highest levels since mid-February and led to a 10 percent decrease in refinance applications. However, refinance activity remains very high. Excluding the spike two weeks ago, the index remained at its highest level since October 2012, and refinancing accounted for almost 75 percent of all applications,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “The Federal Reserve’s rate cut and other monetary policy measures to help the economy should help to bring down mortgage rates in the coming weeks, spurring more refinancing. Amidst these challenging times, the savings that households can gain from refinancing will help bolster their own financial circumstances and support the broader economy.”

Added Kan, “Purchase activity was flat but remained over 10 percent higher than a year ago. The purchase market was on firm footing to start the year and has so far held steady through the current uncertainty. Looking ahead, a gloomier outlook may cause some prospective homebuyers to delay their home search, even with these lower mortgage rates.”
...
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 3.74 percent from 3.47 percent, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.27 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Mortgage Refinance IndexClick on graph for larger image.


The first graph shows the refinance index since 1990.

With record lower rates, we saw a huge increase in refinance activity in the survey over the last two weeks.

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

According to the MBA, purchase activity is up 11% year-over-year.

A key question is will low mortgage rates bring in more buyers, or will people hold off buying a home during the health crisis (as happened in China). So far people are still buying according to this survey.