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New Business Slows

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A week after surging by more than a third, new mortgage business dropped. Declining activity was most impacted by inquiries for adjustable-rate mortgages, jumbo loans and refinance transactions. Rates rose but could retreat by the next report.

The average loan originator pulled 14 percent fewer pricing inquiries than last week, dragging the U.S. Mortgage Market Index from Mortech Inc. and Mortgage Daily for the week ended June 15 down to 229. Compared to the same week in 2011, the index drifted 2 percent lower.

ARM business had the biggest impact on week-over-week activity, tumbling 27 percent from the week the week ended Jun 8. ARM inquiries were down more than two thirds from a year earlier. ARM share, meanwhile, fell for the sixth consecutive week to 3.3 percent. A year ago, ARM share exceeded 10 percent.

Inquiries for jumbo mortgages were down by 20 percent from last week, and jumbo share fell to 8.2 percent from 8.9 percent. The premium for a jumbo loan has increased each of the past three weeks to 70 basis points this week from 65 BPS seven days prior.

Compared to the previous week, pricing inquiries for refinances fell 17 percent but were up a third from the week ended June 17, 2011. Refinance share slipped to 72 percent from 74 percent but was up from 53 percent this week in 2011. The latest share consisted of a 59 percent rate-term share and a 13 percent cashout share.

Also down 17 percent from the prior report were conventional loan pricing inquiries. Conventional activity was off 3 percent from a year ago.

Inquiries for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration were off 9 percent for the week but 7 percent higher than the same week last year. FHA share climbed, however, to 13 percent from 10 percent last week and 12 percent during this week in 2011.

The best-performing category was purchase financing. Purchase inquiries were off just 7 percent for the week, though purchase business has fallen 41 percent over the past year.

Slower overall activity came as the average conforming 30-year rate rose to 3.84 percent from 3.80 percent. But the 30 year remains 84 BPS below the same point last year.

Fifteen-year mortgages were priced at a 66-basis-point discount over 30-year loans, not quite as good as 67 BPS in the previous report and much worse than 82-basis-point spread a year prior.

Mortgage rates could retreat around 3 BPS by the next Mortgage Market Index report based on an analysis of Treasury market activity. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note averaged 1.63 percent during the week encompassed by the latest report, while it closed at 1.60 percent Friday, according to the Department of the Treasury.

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