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Post-Holiday Bounce for Mortgage Business

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Another week-over-week improvement in home loan rates helped lift new mortgage activity from a holiday week slowdown. But even with the decline in fixed rates, adjustable-rate activity accelerated.

In the week that ended on Feb. 26, the U.S. Mortgage Market Index from OpenClose and Mortgage Daily came in at 173. The index is a measure of average per-user rate locks by OpenClose clients.

Compared to the prior week’s report, new mortgage business was 11 percent higher. But activity has softened from the same week last year, with a year-over-year decline of 14 percent recorded.

The statistics from the week ended Feb. 27, 2015, were revised so that the year-earlier comparison reflects numbers from the same data provider.

Out front of the increase from the week ended Feb. 19, 2016, were rate locks for adjustable-rate mortgages, which soared 42 percent. ARM business, though, has slowed 4 percent from this week last year.

ARM share climbed to 9.9 percent from 7.7 percent and was even wider than 8.9 percent as of one year ago.

Next up were rate locks for conventional mortgages, ascending 12.4 percent from the last report but falling by 18 percent from the year-earlier report.

After that was the Purchase MMI, which rose 12.0 percent to 70. Purchase volume was off, however, 9 percent from the same week in 2015.

A 10 percent week-over-week gain left the Jumbo MMI at 8. Jumbo rate locks have plunged 61 percent from one year prior — the worst year-over-year performance.

Rates on jumbo mortgages were seven basis points
less than on conforming loans, the same spread as in the last report. But the jumbo-conforming spread swung from a positive 10 BPS 12 months ago.

Rate locks for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration were up 7 percent from seven days earlier and 6 percent from 12 months earlier. FHA share slipped to 23.3 percent from 24.2 percent but fattened from 19.0 percent this week last year.

The smallest gain from the last report was with refinances, with the Refinance MMI up just 6 percent. But rate locks for refinances have climbed 21 percent from a year ago — the best year-over-year performance.

Refinances accounted for 86.8 percent of all activity in the latest report, not as much as the 90.6 percent share as of a week previous but more than 62.1 percent a year previous. Refinance share was comprised of a 55.6 percent rate-term share and a 31.2 percent cashout share.

Fixed rates on conforming 30-year mortgages averaged 3.62 percent, down three BPS from the previous week. The last time rates have increased was in the week ended
Dec. 25, 2015, when the 30 year averaged 4.01 percent.

Rates have tumbled compared to this week last year, when 30-year fixed rates averaged
4.11 percent.

Little change is likely with fixed rates in the next Mortgage Market Index report — maybe a slight bump — based on a Mortgage Daily analysis of Treasury market activity.

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