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Refinance activity perks up on lower rates

Mortgage applications picked up last week after a decline in rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported.

For the week ending Dec. 7, MBA’s composite index rose 1.6 percent from the prior week. The refinance index increased by 2 percent, and the seasonally adjusted purchase index was up 3 percent from a week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, purchase application activity declined by 2 percent over the week, but was up 4 percent compared to the same week a year ago.

“Mortgage rates fell across the board last week, driven by a similar slide in Treasuries,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “Trade fears dominated investors’ concerns, and this was amplified by data released by the U.S. Commerce Department showing a widening trade deficit.”

Kan said the 30-year fixed rate posted its biggest decline since 2017, falling 12 basis point and below the 5 percent mark.

“As a result of these recent rate declines, we saw another weekly increase in refinance applications, along with a rise in the average refinance loan size,” Kan said. “Larger loans tend to react more readily for a given change in mortgage rates. Meanwhile, purchase application activity also increased over the week and was up more than three percent compared to a year ago.”

The refinance share of mortgage applications increased 0.9 percent to 41.5 percent. 


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