Worries over trade could affect mortgage application activity: MBA

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The trade dispute with China is likely to affect consumers' willingness to buy a home and apply for a new mortgage loan, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

There was a 0.6% decrease in total activity during the week ended May 10 from the prior period, according to the MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. The refinance index decreased 1% from the previous week, while the purchase index fell by 1% on both a seasonally adjusted and unadjusted basis.

"Purchase applications declined slightly last week but still remained almost 7% higher than a year ago," Joel Kan, the MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a press release.

"Despite the third straight decline in mortgage rates, refinance applications decreased for the fifth time in six weeks, albeit by less than 1%. It's worth watching if ongoing global trade disputes lead to increased anxiety about the economy, which could cause some potential homebuyers to put off their home search until the uncertainty is resolved."

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged from the previous week at 37.9% of total applications.

Adjustable-rate loan activity decreased to 6.3% from 6.4% of total applications, while the share of Federal Housing Administration-insured loan applications increased to 10.1% from 9.5% the week prior.

The share of applications for Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loans decreased to 10.6% from 11.1% 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 1 basis point to 4.4%. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $484,350), the average contract rate decreased 3 basis points to 4.24%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased 12 basis points to 4.32%. For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average decreased 3 basis points to 3.78%, while the average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased 6 basis points to 3.82%.

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