There was virtually no movement last week in the various indices measuring mortgage application volume.  The Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA's) Market Composite Index, a gauge of overall application activity, eked out a 0.2 percent increase during the week ended August 21 while the unadjusted index declined by 1.0 percent.

The Refinance Index also lost ground compared to the previous week, down 1.0 percent. The refinance share of total mortgage applications dipped from 55.5 percent during the week ended August 14 to 55.3 percent. 

The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index did stir a bit, rising 2.0 percent but on an unadjusted basis the Purchase Index was down 0.3 percent week-over-week while remaining 18 percent higher than it was during the same period in 2014.

Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

Purchase Index vs 30 Yr Fixed

The minimal increase in the Market Composite Index was driven by an uptick in applications for government-backed mortgages while conventional purchase applications were essentially unchanged.  The seasonally adjusted FHA purchase index rose 5.6 percent while the index for VA applications increased by 5.2 percent.  The share of FHA applications inched up to 13.1 percent from 12.9 percent and the VA share from 11.1 percent to 11.4 percent.  The USDA application share was unchanged at 0.8 percent of the total.

With the exception of a slight increase for FHA-backed mortgages, interest rates, both contract and effective, declined during the week.  The contract interest rate for FHA 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) increased from 3.88 percent with 0.17 point to 3.90 percent with 0.21 point.  The effective rate also increased.

The average rate for 30-year FRM with conforming loan balances of $417,000 or less was 4.08 percent, a 3 basis point decrease from the previous week.  Points declined to 0.36, from 0.37.

The jumbo 30-year FRM, loans with balances over $417,000, had a contract rate of 4.0 percent with 0.24 point.  The previous week the rate was 4.03 percent with 0.29 point.

Fifteen year-FRM rates fell 4 basis points to an average of 3.33 percent.  Points averaged 0.31 compared to 0.36.

The share of applications that were for adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) ticked down from 6.9 percent to 6.8.  The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs dipped to 2.96 percent from 2.98 percent, and points decreased to 0.36 from 0.40.

MBA's Weekly Mortgage Application Survey, which has been conducted since 1990, 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.  Interest rate data assumes loans with 80 percent loan-to-value ratios with points that include the origination fee.