The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 11th, 2011.
The MBA's loan application survey covers over 50% of all U.S. residential mortgage loan applications taken by mortgage bankers, commercial banks, and thrifts. The data gives economists a snapshot view of consumer demand for mortgage loans. In a falling mortgage rate environment, a trend of increasing refinance applications implies consumers are seeking out lower monthly payments. If consumers are able to reduce their monthly mortgage payment and increase disposable income through refinancing, it can be a positive for the economy as a whole (may boost consumer spending. Also allows debtors to pay down personal liabilities faster). A trend of declining purchase applications implies home buyer demand is shrinking.
Excerpts from the Release...
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 9.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 7.9 percent compared with the previous week.
The Refinance Index decreased 11.4 percent from the previous week and is the lowest Refinance Index recorded in the survey since the week ending July 3, 2009. The four week moving average is down 6.2 percent. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 64.0 percent of total applications from 66.6 percent the previous week. This is the fourth straight week the share has declined.
The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5.9 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 0.9 percent compared with the previous week and was 18.2 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The four week moving average is down 1.9 percent.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.12 percent from 5.13 percent, with points increasing to 0.85 from 0.84 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans. The effective rate also decreased from last week.
The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.34 percent from 4.29 percent, with points decreasing to 0.85 from 1.02 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. This is the highest contract 15-year rate observed in the survey since April 2010. The effective rate also increased from last week.
"Mortgage rates remained above 5 percent last week, up almost a full percentage point from their October lows, and refinance volume continued to drop," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics. "Applications for home purchases also declined on a seasonally adjusted basis. Buyers have not returned to the market as rising rates have reduced affordability, to some extent."