After falling for seven consecutive weeks, mortgage application volume finally reversed course, increasing 2.5% during the week ended Dec. 16, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.
Applications for refinances increased 3% – likely due to a last-minute push from holdouts seeking to refinance before rates go higher – while applications for purchases increased 3%, as well.
On an unadjusted basis, total volume increased 2% compared with the previous week. Applications for purchases decreased 0.1%, on an unadjusted basis, and increased 1.0% compared with the same week one year earlier.
The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 57.9% of total applications – up from 57.2% the previous week.
Rates hit new highs for the year: The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 4.41%, up from 4.28% to reach the highest level since May 2014.
The average rate for a 30-year jumbo FRM was 4.36%, up from 4.29%.
The average rate for a 30-year FRM backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was 4.15%, up from 4.02% to reach the highest level since April 2014.
The average rate for a 15-year FRM was 3.64%, up from 3.52% to reach the highest level since January 2014.
The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) was 3.45%, up from 3.28% to reach the highest level since September 2013.
The ARM share of activity increased to 6.5% of total applications.
The average loan size for purchase applications reached its second-highest survey level at $312,000.
Looking at the government loans, applications for mortgages backed by the FHA represented about 11.5% of all applications – down slightly from 11.6% the previous week. The Veterans Affairs share of total applications was 12.0%, up from 11.9%. The U.S. Department of Agriculture share of total applications was 0.8%, down slightly from 0.9%.