Purchase application index at highest level since July: MBA

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Purchase mortgage application activity is at its highest level since this summer on a seasonally adjusted basis, and should remain strong in December, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

"The purchase market overall looks healthy as we enter the home stretch of 2019," Joel Kan, the MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a press release. "The seasonally adjusted purchase index was at its highest level since July, as a combination of wage gains, slower home-price appreciation, and slightly easing inventory conditions continue to support increased activity."

The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Nov. 29 found that application volume was down by 9.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis. This week's results include an adjustment for the Thanksgiving holiday, which occurred one week later than in 2018.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index increased 1% from one week earlier, while the unadjusted purchase index decreased 33% compared with the previous week.

Compared with one year ago, it was down 24% on an unadjusted basis.

The refinance index, which is not seasonally adjusted, decreased 16% from the previous week but was 61% higher than the same week one year ago, while the share decreased to 59% of total applications from 62% the previous week.

"U.S. Treasury rates stayed flat last week, as uncertainty surrounding the U.K. elections offset positive domestic news on consumer spending," Kan said. "Despite the 30-year fixed rate remaining unchanged at 3.97%, mortgage applications fell last week."

Adjustable-rate mortgage activity remained unchanged at 4.8% of total applications, while the share of Federal Housing Administration-insured loan applications increased to 12% from 11.7% the week prior.

The share of applications for Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loans decreased to 12.7% from 14.1% and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development share remained unchanged from 0.5% the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) remained unchanged at 3.97%. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350), the average contract rate increased 4 basis points to 3.91%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased 4 basis points to 3.83%. For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average decreased 1 basis point to 3.37%. The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.28% from 3.42%.

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