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Refis Lead Post-Holiday Resurgence

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Rates edged higher this week, but that wasn’t enough to stop new mortgage activity from increasing after the Thanksgiving holiday. Refinances led the improvement, though all categories surged.

At 189, the U.S. Mortgage Market Index from Mortech Inc. and Mortgage Daily for the week ended Nov 30 jumped 39 percent from seven days earlier. But compared to the same week in 2011, business dropped 18 percent.

Pricing inquiries for refinance transactions climbed 40 percent from the week ended Nov. 21 — the biggest rise of any category. Refinances were off 2 percent from a year earlier.

Refinances accounted for 77 percent of all activity this week. Refinance share widened from 76 percent the prior week and 64 percent in the week ended Dec. 2, 2011. This week’s share reflected a 62 percent rate-term share and a 15 percent cashout share.

Conventional loans were the next-best performers, with inquiries climbing 39 percent from a week ago. Conventional business was off 16 percent from a year ago.

Next were inquiries for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which jumped 38 percent from the previous report and were up a third from the same week in 2011. FHA share slipped to 9.6 percent from last week’s 9.7 percent and stands short of the 11.5 percent share one year prior.

Inquiries for purchase financing rose 35 percent from last week but remain down by nearly half from the year-earlier period.

Jumbo business was up a third for the week. Jumbo borrowers were quoted rates that averaged around 51 BPS more than conforming mortgages, improving from the 53-basis-point jumbo-conforming spread a week earlier and 66 BPS a year earlier.

The worst-performing category, adjustable-rate mortgages, saw a 26 percent rise in inquiries compared to the prior report. ARM activity has plummeted 70 percent over the past year. ARM share was 2.2 percent, down from the prior week’s 2.4 percent. ARM share was 5.94 percent at the same point last year.

The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage inched up to 3.489 percent in the latest report from 3.483 percent. Thirty-year loans averaged 4.224 percent a year previous.

Fifteen-year mortgages were priced 64 BPS lower than 30-year loans, a little more attractive than the 63-basis-point spread a week earlier but unchanged from a year earlier.

Next week’s report is likely to reflect mortgage rates that are around 3 basis points better than this week’s, based on an analysis of Treasury market activity.

Data from the Department of the Treasury indicate that the yield on the 10-year Treasury note averaged 1.65 percent during the week covered in this report. The 10-year yield, which is a benchmark for fixed mortgage rates, closed at 1.62 percent Friday.

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