Improvement in Mortgage Market

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MORTGAGE EXPERT
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As refinances picked up steam and fixed rates fell, overall activity shot up during the latest week. But the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage jumped, while little change was noted in purchase activity.

Off 3 basis points from last week, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 5.06% in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended Jan. 14. During the same week last year, the 30-year was 4.96%.

In the Mortech-MortgageDaily.com Mortgage Market Index for the week ended Jan. 13, the conventional 30 mortgage averaged 4.875%, tumbling from 5.250% a week earlier. The findings were based on 133,344 loan-pricing and -program searches at Mortech Inc.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was 3.730% during trading today, lower than 3.85% at the close of trading a week ago, according to data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and WSJ.com. The 10-year’s movement suggests fixed rates might fall further in next week’s reports.

But nearly half of Bankrate.com’s 100 panelists for the week Jan. 14 to Jan. 20 are expecting mortgage rates to move more than 2 BPS during the next 35 to 45 days. An increase was predicted by 36 and a decrease was forecasted by 18.

In its economic forecast released today, Freddie projects the 30-year will average 5.1% in the current quarter then gradually climb to 6.1% by the fourth quarter. Earlier this week, the Mortgage Bankers Association released a forecast indicating that the 30-year would average 5.4% in the first quarter then rise to 6.1% by final quarter of this year.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 5 BPS from last week to 4.45% in Freddie’s latest survey. The conventional 15-year fell to 4.250% from 4.375% in the Mortech-MortgageDaily.com report.

Tumbling 12 BPS from the previous week was the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage, which Freddie reported at 4.32%.

But the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM climbed 8 BPS to 4.39%, Freddie said. A year earlier, the one-year averaged 4.89%. Freddie predicts that the one-year will average 4.5% this quarter and steadily rise to 5.5% by the end of the year, while MBA forecasts 4.8% first-quarter average and a 5.0% fourth-quarter average.

The yield on the one-year Treasury, the underlying index for one-year ARMs, closed yesterday at 0.37%, 3 BPS lower than seven days earlier. The six-month London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, fell to 0.40% yesterday from 0.43% a week earlier, Bankrate.com reported.

ARMs accounted for 4.0% of activity in MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ended Jan. 8, the same as the prior week.

The ARM share is expected to come in at 4% for the first quarter then rise to 6% by the third quarter, according to Freddie’s forecast.

Overall loan activity jumped 49% from last week based on the MortechMortgageDaily.com data.

In MBA’s data, which is reported on a one-week delay, applications increased 14% from a week earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The Mortech-MortgageDaily.com index indicated that the average U.S. loan amount increased to $207,109 from the previous week’s $203,953. Washington, D.C.’s, $287,837 was higher than any state, while Hawaii followed with $271,777 and Massachusetts was $268,657. The lowest average loan amount was $131,075 in North Dakota.

The average U.S. jumbo loan amount rose to $676,182 from $659,853 in the prior Mortech-MortgageDaily.com report.

Total refinance share edged up to 47% from last week’s 43%, according to the more recent Mortech-MortgageDaily.com index. Cashouts accounted for 15% of this week’s total share, and rate-term refinances represented 32%.

MBA’s latest data reflected that last week’s refinance applications rose 22% from the previous week, pushing the refinance share to 72% from 68%.

Freddie predicted that refinance share will be 65% during the current quarter then fall to 35% by the fourth quarter. Based on actual originations, MBA projects that refinance share will fall from 53% this quarter to 31% by the fourth quarter.

Purchase applications were up 1% in MBA’s report.

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Mortgage Daily Staff

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