Mortgage Applications Fall on Trade War Fears

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Mortgage application volume fell 3.3% on an adjusted basis during the week ended May 24, as the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage remained flat at 4.33%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey.

Applications for refinances fell 6% while applications for purchases fell 1%, according to the report.

On an unadjusted basis, total volume fell 4% compared with the previous week. Applications for refinances fell 3% on an unadjusted basis but were up 7% compared with the same week one year earlier.

“Concerns over European economic growth and ongoing uncertainty about a trade war with China were some of the main factors that kept mortgage rates low last week,” says Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting for the MBA, in a statement. “Even with lower rates on three of the five surveyed loan types, refinance activity fell six percent, essentially reversing an eight percent increase the week before.”

Kan adds that it is “possible that the trade dispute is causing potential homeowners to hold off on buying, with the fear that further escalation – or the lack of resolution – may have adverse impacts on the economy and housing market.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 39.7% of total applications, down from 40.5% the previous week.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 6.6% of total applications.

The average rate for a 5/1 ARM, based on closings, was 3.74%, up from 3.57%.

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