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MBA: Mortgage Purchase Applications Decreased in Weekly Survey


From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey

Mortgage applications decreased 4.1 percent from one week
earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications
Survey for the week ending March 31, 2023.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 4.1 percent on
a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 4 percent
compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 5 percent from the previous week and
was 59 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index
decreased 4 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent
compared with the previous week and was 35 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Spring has arrived, but the housing market is missing the customary burst in listings and purchase activity
that typically mark the season. After four weeks of increasing purchase application activity, volume declined
a bit this week even with another small drop in mortgage rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s SVP and Chief
Economist. “Additionally, refinance application volume continues to be quite low. Although the mortgage
rate for conforming balance loans declined by five basis points over the week to 6.40 percent, the mortgage
rate for jumbo loans increased by nine basis points to 6.36 percent. While we have seen relative weakness
at the high end of the housing market in recent months, the divergence in rates suggests that banks may
be tightening credit in response to recent challenges, preserving balance sheet capacity as deposit
balances have declined. In recent years, most jumbo loans have been kept on depository balance sheets.”

Added Fratantoni: “At the entry-level segment of the market, purchase applications for both FHA and VA
loans decreased last week. We do expect strong demand from first-time homebuyers over the next several
years given the large number of millennials hitting peak first-time homebuyer age, but affordability remains
a real challenge in this environment.”
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances
($726,200 or less) decreased to 6.40 percent from 6.45 percent, with points decreasing to 0.59 from 0.62
(including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.

emphasis added
Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index.

According to the MBA, purchase activity is down 35% year-over-year unadjusted.  

Red is a four-week average (blue is weekly).

The second graph shows the refinance index since 1990.

With higher mortgage rates, the refinance index declined sharply in 2022.

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