Applications for refinancing represented 75 percent of all mortgage activity last week compared to 76 percent the week before according to the Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).  The week ended March 15 was the 10th straight week that refinancing lost market share and it was at the lowest level since last May.  Applications for refinancing through the HARP program increased to 31 percent of refinancing applications compared to 30 percent during the week ended March 8. 

MBA's Market Composite Index, a measure of overall mortgage application volume, was down 7.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and 7.0 percent unadjusted from the previous week. The Refinancing Index declined 8 percent.   The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 4 percent and the unadjusted index 3 percent compared to the previous week.  The unadjusted index was 6 percent higher than it was one year earlier.   

Purchase Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) increased to 3.82 percent with 0.38 point from 3.81 percent, with 0.39 point and the effective rate increased from the previous week.  The jumbo 30-year FRM increased to 3.95 percent from 3.90 percent, with points decreasing to 0.36 from 0.46 and the effective rate increased.

The average rate for FHA-backed 30-year FRM was unchanged at 3.53 percent with points decreasing to 0.31 from 0.38 thus lowering the effective rate.  The government share of purchase applications declined to 33 percent, its lowest level since January 2009.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.02 percent from 3.01 percent, with points decreasing to 0.36 from 0.42.  The effective rate also decreased.

The contract rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) dipped 3 basis points to 2.59 percent while points increased from 0.33 to 0.40.  The effective rate decreased. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained constant at 5 percent of total applications. 

All rates quoted are for mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of 80 percent.  Points include the origination fee.

MBA's survey has been conducted weekly since 1990 and covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.  Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.