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Mortgage Applications Drop 4%, Interest Rates Highest in 8 Years

The Mortgage Bankers Association released their data for mortgage applications of the week ending November 02. The report reveals more challenges for the housing market with mortgage applications at a 4-year low in the face of rising interests rates and dwindling home sales.

Key Takeaways

  • The rate of applications dropped 4% to hit a 4-year low
  • 30-year interest rates are now an average of 5.15%, the highest since April 2010
  • Volume is down 16% from last year

The Mortgage Composite index has dropped 4% from the previous week with the Refinance Index falling 3% and the unadjusted Purchase Index falling 1%, 0.2% lower than the same week in 2017. The volume of refinancing loans is 33% lower than last year. When seasonally adjusted, the Purchase Index is at it’s lowest since November 2016, down 5% from last week. Data from Black Knight suggests that rising interest rates have cut the number of eligible borrowers who could benefit from refinancing in half this year alone.

The refinance share of mortgage activity is now at 39.1% compared to last week’s reading of 39.4%, and the adjustable-rate share is now 7.8% of all applications. The Federal Housing Administration share dropped from 10.3% to 10.1%,the Veterans Affairs’ share is up 0.03% from last week’s figure of 9.8%, the Department of Agriculture share remains steady at 0.7%.

The week before last which ended October 26 also saw a reduction in mortgage applications with a drop of 2.5%.

Interest Rate Breakdown

For mortgages with conforming loan balances of $453,100 or under the rates jumped to 5.15% from 5.11% the week before. The rate for the same type of mortgages with jumbo loan balances of over $453,100 went up from 4.94% to 4.97%. The average contract rate for this type of mortgage backed by the FHA jumped from 5.08% to 5.15%, and the average contract interest rate for 15-year mortgages held firm at 4.55%with no change from the previous week.

Expert Outlook

According to Joel Kan, MBA Director of Economic and Industry Forecasts:

“Rates increased slightly last week, as various job market indicators showed a bounce back in job gains and an acceleration in wage growth in October. The survey’s 30-year fixed-rate, at 5.15%, was the highest since April 2010.”

Kan went on to state that:

“Application activity decreased over the week for both purchase and refinance applications, with the overall market index down to its lowest level since December 2014. The purchase index declined to its lowest level since November 2016 but remained only slightly below the same week a year ago. It’s evident that housing inventory shortages continue to impact prospective homebuyers this fall.”

At an 8-year high, mortgage rates continue to climb with no signs of stopping. However, it’s possible that the upcoming US midterm elections will introduce an element of volatility to the rates.

The rising interest rates and falling home sales and rate of mortgage applications spell bad news for the housing market overall and will present a significant challenge for the Fed, which plans to go ahead with further rate hikes before the end of 2018.