Borrowers seeking larger balances drive mortgage application activity

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It was activity at the upper end of the housing market that helped to keep mortgage application volume level with the previous week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said.

Whether it was for a refinance or a purchase, borrowers that had or were looking for larger loan balances had a significant effect on the week's activity.

The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Nov. 1 reported a scant 0.1% decrease from the previous week, although the refinance index increased 2% during that time frame.

Compared with one year ago, the refi index was 144% higher. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 59.5% of total applications from 58% the previous week.

Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased 3% from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the purchase index decreased 4% compared with the previous week and was 7% higher than the same week one year ago.

"U.S. Treasury yields once again exhibited some intraweek volatility before declining sharply toward the end of the week. As a result, mortgage rates decreased, with the 30-year fixed rate falling below 4% again," Joel Kan, the MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a press release.

"In response to the lower rates, refinance applications climbed 2%, as homeowners with larger loan balances helped to keep the average refinance loan size elevated. Amidst persistent supply constraints in the entry-level price range, there's evidence that high-end homebuyers are more active this fall. The average loan size for purchase applications increased to its highest level since May."

Adjustable-rate mortgage activity remained unchanged at 5.2% of total applications, while the share of Federal Housing Administration-insured loan applications decreased to 11.8% from 12% the week prior.

The share of applications for Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loans increased to 12% from 11.8% and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development share remained unchanged from 0.6% the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) decreased 7 basis points to 3.98%. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350), the average contract rate decreased 4 basis points to 3.97%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased 4 basis points to 3.79%. For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average decreased 2 basis to 3.38%. The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs remained unchanged at 3.43%.

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Mortgage applications Purchase Refinance Mortgage rates Mortgage Bankers Association FHA The VA