The week ended April 25 was one of the slowest for mortgage application activity the industry has seen in years. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said applications for both purchase mortgages and refinancing decreased and its Market Composite Index, a measure of overall mortgage applications volume, fell to its lowest level in almost 15 years.
The Composite decreased 5.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week ended April 18 and was down 5 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Refinancing activity fell 7 percent and purchase applications were off 4 percent from a week earlier on both a seasonally adjusted and an unadjusted basis and was 21 percent lower than during the same week in 2013.
Refinancing fell to exactly half of all mortgage applications from 51 percent the previous week. This is the lowest share for refinancing since July 2009 and it is 13 percentage points below the level at the beginning of 2014.
Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed
Purchase Index vs 30 Yr Fixed
"Both purchase and refinance application activity fell last week, and the market composite index is at its lowest level since December 2000," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Chief Economist. "Purchase applications decreased 4 percent over the week, and were 21 percent lower than a year ago. Refinance activity also continued to slide despite a 30-year fixed rate that was unchanged from the previous week. The refinance index dropped 7 percent to the lowest level since 2008, continuing the declining trend that we have seen since May 2013."
Contract interest rates for fixed rate mortgages were lower or unchanged from the previous week while effective rates all decreased. Interest rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages did increase during the week with the average contract rate rising 10 basis points to 3.26 percent. Points decreased to 0.35 from 0.36 and the effective rate decreased from the previous week. Approximately 8 percent of mortgage applications were for the various adjustable rate products, essentially unchanged from the previous week.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) with conforming loan balances of $417,000 or less was unchanged at 4.49 percent, with points decreasing to 0.38 from 0.50. The average contract interest rate for jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with balances greater than $417,000 decreased to 4.37 percent from 4.41 percent, with points dropping to 0.14 from 0.34.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 4.17 percent from 4.20 percent with points decreasing to 0.10 from 0.41 and the rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.53 percent from 3.55 percent. Points for the 15-year decreased to 0.31 from 0.33.
MBA's data is derived from its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey which it has conducted since 1990 and which covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications. Survey respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. Interest rate information is based on loans with an 80 percent loan-to-value ratio and points include the origination fee. Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.