According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 29, 2019, mortgage applications increased 18.6 percent from one week earlier.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 18.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 18 percent compared with the previous week.
The Refinance Index increased 39 percent from the previous week, and was at its highest level since January 2016. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 4 percent compared with the previous week and was 10 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
"There was a tremendous surge in overall applications activity, as mortgage rates fell for the fourth week in a row - with rates for some loan types reaching their lowest levels since January 2018. Refinance borrowers with larger loan balances continue to benefit, as we saw another sizeable increase in the average refinance loan size to $438,900 - a new survey record," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "We had expected factors such as the ongoing strong job market and favorable demographics to help lift purchase activity this year, and the further decline in rates is providing another tailwind. Purchase applications were almost 10 percent higher than a year ago."
Added Kan, "The average loan size for purchase loans declined slightly, as applications for smaller purchase loan sizes exceeded that of higher loan sizes - a positive sign that first-time buyers were increasingly active in the market."
The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 47.4 percent of total applications from 40.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 9.5 percent of total applications.
The FHA share of total applications decreased to 8.8 percent from 9.3 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications remained unchanged from 10.4 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.6 percent the week prior.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) decreased to 4.36 percent from 4.45 percent, with points increasing to 0.44 from 0.39 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350) decreased to 4.21 percent from 4.35 percent, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.27 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 4.41 percent from 4.48 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.48 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.78 percent from 3.87 percent, with points decreasing to 0.40 from 0.47 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs remained unchanged at 3.77 percent, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.30 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
According to HUD, the U.S. national vacancy rate in the first quarter 2019 was 7.0 percent for rental housing and 1.4 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 7.0 percent was virtually unchanged from the rate in the first quarter 2018.
According to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, total housing starts fell 0.3 percent in March 2019 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million units from a downwardly revised reading in February 2019.
According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, U.S. mortgage rates rose modestly this 2nd week of April 2019, with the 30-year fixed-rate averaging 4.12 percent. Rates moved up slightly this week while mortgage applications decreased following last week's jump in rates.
A total of 161,875 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing during the first quarter of 2019, down 23 percent from the previous quarter and down 15 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since Q1 2008.
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