Mortgage application activity picks up as rates slide to 1-month low

Lower rates helped spur an uptick of nearly 3%

Mortgage application activity picks up as rates slide to 1-month low

The Mortgage Bankers Association has reported a 2.9% uptick in home loan application volume for the week ending March 24.

MBA's market composite index rose 2.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous week and was up 3% on an unadjusted basis. The increase comes as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 6.45% – the lowest level in over a month.

"Application activity increased as mortgage rates declined for the third straight week," said MBA deputy chief economist Joel Kan. "While the 30-year fixed rate remained 1.65 percentage points higher than a year ago, homebuyers responded, leading to a fourth straight increase in purchase applications."

The seasonally adjusted purchase index edged up 2% week over week but remained 35% lower than the same week a year ago. Kan noted that home price growth has slowed significantly across the country, which has helped boost buyers' purchasing power.

"Purchase applications remain over 30% behind last year's pace, but recent increases, along with data from other sources showing an uptick in home sales, is a welcome development," he said.

Refi applications increased 5% from the week before, with the refinance share of mortgage activity up five basis points to 29.1% of total applications. Meanwhile, the adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity dropped to 7.7% of total applications.

"Refinance activity also picked up last week but remained 61% below last year's pace," Kan said. "Most homeowners still have rates significantly lower than current levels, leaving only a small pool of borrowers with an incentive to refinance."

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