Purchase mortgage applications fall due to lack of homes for sale

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Purchase mortgage applications continue to decline, falling to their lowest level since the start of the spring, as supply constraints limit homebuyer activity, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The 3% seasonally adjusted decline in purchase volume led to a 1.4% drop in total mortgage application activity compared with one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, total volume fell by 1% from last week, with purchase volume down by 3%.

The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 26 found that the refinance index increased 0.1% from the previous week and was 84% higher than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 50.5% of total applications from 49.8% the previous week.

"While purchase activity was still up 6% from a year ago, the index has now decreased for three straight weeks and reached its lowest point since March. Despite healthy demand, inadequate supply levels continue to hold back some would-be buyers," Joel Kan, the MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a press release.

"Rate movements were mixed, with the 30-year fixed rate remaining unchanged, but the FHA rate decreased to its lowest level since 2017. Refinance applications were essentially flat, but the components told different stories. Conventional refinances were up 1.1%, but government refinances were down almost 3% — led by a drop in VA applications."

Adjustable-rate mortgage activity remained unchanged at 4.7% of total applications and the share of Federal Housing Administration-insured loan applications remained unchanged at 11.3% from the week prior.

The share of applications for Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loans decreased to 12.6% from 13.1% and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development share remained unchanged at 0.6% from 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 4.08%. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350), the average contract rate remained unchanged at 4.04%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased 4 basis points to 3.94%. For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average increased 3 basis points to 3.48%. The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased 5 basis points to 3.52%.

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Mortgage applications Purchase Refinance Housing inventory Mortgage Bankers Association FHA The VA