Mortgage applications slide with rate hike and more Ukraine uncertainty ahead

by John Yellig

Mortgage applications dipped 1.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis during the week ended March 11, as mortgage rates jumped to a level not seen since 2019 amid volatility over an expected interest rate increase from the Fed and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Mortgage Bankers Association said, citing its Market Composite Index.

The average contract interest rate for conforming 30-year mortgages of $647,200 or less surged to 4.27% from 4.09%, while the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration increased to 4.23% from 4.12%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed- mortgages with jumbo loan balances of more than $647,200 surged to 4.02% from 3.79%, and the average contract interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.55% from 3.39%.

On an unadjusted basis, the market composite index, which measures mortgage-loan application volume, slid 1%. The refinance index, meanwhile, fell 3% from the previous week and was down 49% from the same week a year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 48.4% of total applications from 49.5% the previous week.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index rose 1% from the previous week, while the unadjusted purchase index climbed 2% and was 8% lower than one year ago.

“Investors are weighing the impacts of rapidly increasing inflation in the U.S. and many other parts of the world against the potential for a slowdown in economic growth due to a renewed bout of supply-chain constraints,” MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting Joel Kan said in a press release. “Rates are now roughly a full percentage point higher than a year ago and continue to hamper refinance activity. Refinances declined for both conventional and government loans.”

The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 5.6% of total applications. The FHA share of total applications was flat at 8.7%, while the VA share of total applications increased to 10.5% from 10.4%. The USDA share of total applications was flat at 0.5%.

“Purchase applications slightly increased, with both conventional and VA loan applications seeing gains,” Kan said. “The average purchase application loan size remained elevated at $453,200 — the second-highest amount in MBA’s survey.”  


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