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Retreating Rates Stimulate Refis

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An increase in new refinance activity was more than enough to offset a drop in purchase business this week. The improvement was concentrated in conventional transactions. Jumbo mortgages were priced more competitively this week.

Overall new mortgage inquiries rose 3 percent this week, with the U.S. Mortgage Market Index from Mortech Inc. and MortgageDaily.com for the week ended Friday coming in at 234 versus 227 for the week ended May 6. The MMI, which reflects pricing inquiries by originator-customers of Mortech, was 252 the same week during 2010.

Lifting this week’s activity were refinances, with the Refinance MMI climbing to 116 from 106 seven days prior. Refinance share rose to half from 47 percent last week and 39 percent at the same point last year. This week’s share included a 36 percent rate-term share and a 13 percent cashout share.

But new purchase activity was weaker — dragging the Purchase MMI down to 118 from last week’s 121.

FHA activity was unchanged over the past week, but conventional business improved 4 percent.

The proportion of new business that was adjustable-rate fell to 9.73 percent from 10.45 percent last week. The ARM MMI was off 4 percent.

The conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was down 6 basis points over the past seven days.

The cost of jumbo mortgages improved, with the spread between 30-year conforming mortgages and loans greater than $417,000 inching down to 52 basis points from last week’s 53 BPS.

At 80 BPS, there was no change in the spread between 15-year and 30-year products.

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