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Rate Dip Leads to a 12% Increase in Application Volume: MBA

JAN 15, 2014 10:12am ET
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The mortgage rate dip last week has resulted in application volume increasing nearly 12% on a seasonally adjusted basis according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

On an unadjusted basis, application volume increased 61% over the previous week for the period ended Jan. 10. The previous week’s data was adjusted for New Year’s Day.

Rates fell last Friday as a result of the poor jobs report, market observers are noting. But that decline may be a temporary respite.

The increase in applications is because consumers are coming to the realization that rates are likely to rise overall this year, says Bill Banfield, Quicken Loans vice president.

“Those still on the fence should take action quickly, as mortgages are expected to get pricier overall, not only because of these probable increases in rates, but also guarantee fees, which were already delayed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency at the beginning of the year,” he says.

People should not read too much into the week-to-week increase in applications because the previous week was a holiday week, says Brent Nyitray, director of capital markets for iServe Residential Lending.

But the new mortgage rules, including the ability-to-repay requirement, could affect the market going forward.

"Low mortgage rates are little more than an attractive nuisance if you can't qualify for a loan. Here's hoping that the dip in new hiring turns out to be just a blip in an otherwise fair pattern, or we may not see the kind of housing market in 2014 we are hoping to see,” says HSH.com vice president Keith Gumbinger.

While rates are likely to rise in the long term, in the short term they should remain stable as the markets wait for additional data that might reinforce or contradict the jobs report, states Erin Lantz, Zillow’s director of mortgages.

The Refinance Index increased 11% during the week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 12% and on an unadjusted basis, is up 66%. But on an unadjusted basis purchase app volume is 10% lower than the same week one year ago.

Refis are now 62% of new applications, down from 63% the previous week.

The rate inversion between conforming and jumbo loans continues as the spread between the two has increased by two basis points to eight bps.

The average contract rate for 30-year conforming fixed rate mortgage is at 4.66%, down six bps. For the 30-year FRM jumbo it is at 4.58%, a drop of eight bps, the MBA says. The organization uses $417,000 as the conforming loan limit for survey purposes.

On Federal Housing Administration-insured loans, the average contract rate is down seven bps to 4.29%, while for the 15-year FRM, the rate is down five bps at 3.72%.

Meanwhile, the share of adjustable-rate mortgage loan applications remains in the range of 8%. The average contract rate for the 5/1 ARM is 3.28%, a drop of five bps.

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