Mortgage Applications Fall Back But Remain at an ‘Elevated Level’


Following a significant increase that came during the first full week of January, mortgage application volume moderated, dipping 1.2% on an adjusted basis during the week ended January 17, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey.

Applications for refinances decreased 2%, compared with the previous week while applications for purchases also fell 2%.

On an unadjusted basis, total volume increased 0.4% compared with the previous week. Applications for purchases increased 4% on an unadjusted basis and were 8% percent higher compared with the same week one year ago. 

“Mortgage applications dipped slightly last week after two weeks of healthy increases, but even with a slight decline, the total pace of applications remains at an elevated level,” explains Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting for the MBA, in a statement. “The purchase market has started 2020 on a strong note, running eight percent higher than the same week a year ago.”

“Refinance applications remained near the highest level since October 2019, as the 30-year fixed rate was unchanged at 3.87 percent, while the 15-year fixed rate decreased to its lowest level since November 2016,” Kan adds. “Even with more positive developments surrounding the U.S. and China trade negotiations and healthy retail sales data, investors seemed cautious and maintained their demand for safer U.S. Treasuries, which kept yields lower. Our expectation is that rates will stay along this same narrow range.” 

The refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 61.6% of total applications, down from 62.9% the previous week.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 4.6% of total applications.

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