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Mortgage applications increased even as interest rates moved up

Mortgage applications increased from one week earlier, although conforming loan interest rates moved back over 4%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Nov. 8 found that total application volume rose 9.6%, driven by a 13% increase in the refinance index from the previous week. Refi volume was 188% higher than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 61.9% of total applications from 59.5% the previous week.

"Mortgage applications increased to their highest level in over a month, as both purchase and refinance activity rose despite another climb in mortgage rates," Joel Kan, the MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a press release.

"Positive data on consumer sentiment, and growing optimism surrounding the U.S. and China trade dispute, were behind last week's rise in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.03%. With rates still in the 4% range, we continue to expect to see moderate growth in refinance activity in the final weeks of 2020."

Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted purchase index increased 5% from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the purchase index increased 2% compared with the previous week and was 15% higher than the same week one year ago.

"Last week was a solid week for homebuyers," Kan said. "Low supply and high home prices remain a key characteristic of this fall's housing market, which is why the largest growth in activity continues to be in loans with higher loan balances."

Adjustable-rate mortgage activity decreased to 4.9% from 5.2%, while the share of Federal Housing Administration-insured loan applications increased to 13.1% from 11.8% the week prior.

The share of applications for Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loans increased to 12.7% from 12%, although the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development share decreased to 0.5% 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) increased 5 basis points to 4.03%. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350), the average contract rate increased 1 basis point to 3.98%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased 6 basis points to 3.85%. For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average increased 5 basis points to 3.43%. The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased 3 basis points to 3.4%.

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