Economic concerns hinder mortgage growth, says MBA

by Candyd Mendoza21 Mar 2019

Mortgage applications slightly moved slightly forward for the week ending on March 15, 2019, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly Mortgage Application Survey.

On an adjusted basis, the volume of the total mortgage rose 1.6% from the prior week, while the index inched up 2% on an unadjusted basis compared to the previous week.

Concerns about the slowing global economy and status of Brexit not only pushed investors’ demand for US Treasuries, but also caused mortgage rates to drop once again, said Joel Kan, MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

"Rates for most loan types were at their lowest levels in over a year, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate falling to 4.55% – its lowest reading since last February,” said Kan. “Although lower rates sparked a 3.5% increase in refinance applications, purchase activity was up only slightly last week and from a year ago."

Kan also said that entry-level housing supply stays weak and is likely hindering some would-be first-time buyers from finding a home.

"This, along with faster growth in the higher price tiers, is why the average loan application size has risen to a new high for three straight weeks,” Kan said.

The Refinance Index slightly increased 4% from the prior week, and the unadjusted Purchase Index grew 1% compared to the same week last year. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index rose 0.3% from last week.

Here’s how the average contract interest rates performed for different loans:

  • For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances fell to 4.55% from 4.64%
  • The rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances dropped to 4.37% from 4.45%
  • FHA-backed 30-year fixed-rate mortgages went down to 4.59% from 4.61%
  • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dwindled to 3.97% from 4.02%
  • The rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.99% from 4.09%