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Rise in Mortgage Applications Driven by Refinances

Mortgage application volume moved higher last week, and it was refinances that drove the increase. Jumbo rates remained lower than conforming rates — which rose to a seven-year high.

Applications for home loans during the week ended Oct. 19 accelerated on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier by 4.9 percent, according to the Market Composite Index.

Even without any seasonal adjustments, the index — a measure of retail residential loan application volume — moved higher by 5 percent from the week ended Oct. 12.

The index reflects results from the Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group says the survey covers more than three-quarters of all applications.

A 10 percent boost was recorded for weekly refinance applications, which made up 39.8 percent of all applications. While refinance share widened from 38.1 percent a week earlier, it was thinner than
49.5 percent a year earlier.

Only a 2 percent week-over-week seasonally adjusted rise was recorded for purchase-money applications.
When seasonal adjustments are thrown out, the increase was still 2 percent from a week earlier and 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

FHA applications made up 10.1 percent of the total, more narrow than the 10.4 percent share in last week’s report but wider than 9.8 percent in the report from a year ago.

VA share also thinned to 10.1 percent from 10.4 percent. But unlike FHA activity, VA share was unchanged from the same week last year.

Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages accounted for 7.0 percent of weekly volume, a little less than the 7.1 percent share in the last report. Still, ARM share was more broad than 6.4 percent in the year-earlier report.

As conforming first rates ascended to the highest level since February 2011, jumbo rates were 10 basis points lower. The spread was 12 BPS in last week’s report, while it was 7 BPS this week last year.

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