The Mortgage Bankers Association released its weekly mortgage application data this morning.  Here's the skinny:

Refi Applications 

  • -16% from last week
  • 50.1% of total applications versus 52.8% last week

Purchase Applications

  • -10% from last week (seasonally adjusted)
  • -6% (not seasonally adjusted)

The MBA does a much better job than other weekly surveys of capturing the week-to-week reality for mortgage rates.  They logged an average 30yr fixed rate of 4.06% (up from 4.05% previously) which is just about perfect according to our own daily rate tracking over the same time.

These are the highest rates since the May 2019 and that carries logical consequences for refinance applications, which are well on their way to returning to May 2019 levels.

Purchase Applications are typically more insulated from rate volatility and that was especially true for most of the past 6 months.  As rates moved up from near-all-time lows in early August, purchase demand actually increased.  That trend topped out at the end of November, but application levels stayed high through January.  February has been a different story for purchases, but levels are still higher than mid-2021 lows.

Moreover, if we zoom the chart out, we see that purchases are still in solid territory in the bigger picture.  Current levels are in line with what had been the highs of the past decade, pre-covid.

Other highlights from this week's MBA data:

  • Adjustable rate activity increased to 5.1% of the total share of applications
  • The FHA share increased to 8.7% from 8.3%
  • The VA share was 9.9% vs 9.3% previously
  • Notably, FHA rates were up to 4.09% from 4.01% despite typically being lower than conventional rates.  While MBA doesn't state a reason for this, our view is that it is a product of declining credit quality typically seen at this point in a rising rate cycle (and anecdotally confirmed by originators on the MBS Live platform). 

Updated interactive charts: