Rising rates now affecting purchase mortgage application activity

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Purchase mortgage applications, which until now were unaffected by the recent rise in interest rates, fell by 4% on a seasonally adjusted basis from last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 19 found that total application volume decreased 7.3% as the refinance index decreased 11% from the previous week.

"The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has risen 10 basis points in three weeks, and is now at its highest level in over a month," said MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni in a press release. "Borrowing costs have recently drifted higher because of ebbing geopolitical concerns, as well as signs of strengthening in the U.S. economy, including the recent data pointing to robust retail sales."

Over the past three weeks, refi application volume fell 28%, Fratantoni said. Even with the week-to-week change in purchase activity, on an unadjusted basis, the purchase index is 3% than this time last year.

"The strong economy and job market is keeping buyer interest high, but rising mortgage rates could add pressure to the budgets of some would-be buyers," Fratantoni said.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 39.4% of total applications from 41.5% the previous week.

Adjustable-rate loan activity decreased to 6.4% from 6.6% of total applications, while the share of Federal Housing Administration-insured loans increased to 9.9% from 9.4% the week prior.

The share of applications for Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loans decreased to 11.3% from 11.6% 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) increased 2 basis points to 4.46%. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350), the average contract rate increased 2 basis points to 4.35%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased 6 basis points to 4.49%. For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average increased 3 basis points to 3.87%. The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased 4 basis points to 3.92%.

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