Mortgage activity during the week ended March 25 more or less marked time. Rates were mixed and purchase loans, which increased slightly, offset refinance applications for a slight decrease in mortgage volume.  The Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA's) Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume dipped 1 percent on both a seasonally adjusted and an adjusted basis compared to the week ended March 18.

MBA's Refinance Index provided the downside for the week, decreasing 3 percent from the week before.  The Purchase Index increased 2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and 3 percent unadjusted.  The Purchase Index was up 21 percent compared to the same week a year earlier but the year-over-year number had been up 33 percent two weeks earlier.  

Refi Index vs 30yr Fixed

Purchase Index vs 30yr Fixed

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 52.4 percent of total applications from 53.9 percent the previous week. FHA applications had a 11.5 percent share compared to 11.8 percent the previous week while the VA portion grew from 12.6 percent to 12.9 percent. USDA applications remained unchanged at a 0.9 percent share.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 3.94 percent from 3.93 percent.  Points increased to 0.36 from 0.35 and the effective rate increased as well.

The contract rate for 30-year FRM with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) dipped three basis points to 3.82 percent.  Points increased to 0.28 from 0.27 and the effective rate declined.

Thirty-year FRM backed by the FHA increased to 3.76 percent from 3.74 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.32. The effective rate increased.

The average rate for 15-year FRM was 3.19 percent with 0.30 point.  The previous week the rate had been 3.18 percent with 0.34 point leaving the effective rate unchanged.

Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) of all types took a 4.9 percent share of mortgage applications, the same as the previous week.  The average contract rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased from 3.13 percent to 3.07 percent.  Points increased from 0.36 to 0.38 and the effective rate was down.

MBA's volume and rate information is gathered through its Weekly Mortgage Application Survey.  It covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100 and rate information assumes a mortgage with an 80 percent loan-to-value ratio and points that include the origination fee.