Mortgage applications were down across the board during the week ended December 9.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said that its Market Composite Index, a measure of application volume, was 4.0 percent lower than the previous week which ended on December 2. The index was down 5 percent on an unadjusted basis.   

While the share of refinancing increased to 57.2 percent of all applications compared to 56.2 percent a week earlier, the Refinance Index lost 4 percent.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent from one week earlier while the unadjusted index dropped 7 percent.  It remained, however, 2 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

Applications for loan products were distributed in much the same way as they have been throughout the year.  Applications for FHA-backed loans made up an 11.6 percent share of the total, up from 11.3 percent the previous week.  The VA share decreased to 11.9 percent from 12.6 percent, and the USDA share was unchanged at 0.9 percent.

Both contract and effective rates were mixed during the week even as some products reached multi-year highs. 

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to its highest level since October 2014, 4.28 percent, up from 4.27 percent. Points decreased to 0.36 from 0.37 and the effective rate increased.

The average contract interest rate for jumbo 30-year FRM with balances greater than $417,000 also reached a better than two year high (September 2014) of 4.29 percent, rising 7 basis points from the previous week.  Points dipped to 0.24 from 0.29 and the effective rate was up.  

The rate for 30-year FRM backed by the FHA rose 2 basis points to 4.02 percent.  Points fell to 0.33 from 0.38 and the effective rate increased. 

The contract rate for 15-year FRM ticked down to 3.52 percent from 3.53 percent and points were down from 0.39 to 0.38.  The effective rate was unchanged.  

The weeks most substantial change was an 11-basis point decline in the average rate of the 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), to 3.28 percent.  Points remained at 0.28 and the effective rate was lower than a week earlier. The ARM share of application activity increased to 6.2 percent from 6.0 percent.

MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey 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 interest rate information is based on loans with an 80 percent loan-to-value ratio and points that include the origination fee..