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New Mortgage Activity Holds as Rates Little Changed

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With refinance activity having subsided, the overall level of new mortgage business has been fairly consistent. Government activity fared worst this past week, while the conventional category had the biggest gain.

At 173, the U.S. Mortgage Market Index from LoanSifter and Mortgage Daily for the week ended March 28 was virtually unchanged from a week earlier.

The index, which reflects average per-user pricing inquiries at LoanSifter, was down 30 percent from the same week last year. The year-earlier numbers were revised to reflect statistics from the same data provider.

The biggest decline compared to the week ended March 21 hit inquiries for loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, with FHA business falling 4 percent. FHA activity has subsided by a third compared to a year earlier.

FHA share slipped to 16.3 percent from 16.9 percent in the prior report and in the year-earlier report.

Jumbo business drifted down 3 percent from the previous week but was up 17 percent from the week ended March 29, 2013. Jumbo inquiries accounted for 9.9 percent of this week’s overall activity. Jumbo share was down from 10.2 percent a week earlier but wider than 5.8 percent a year earlier.

The average jumbo mortgage was priced 3 basis points higher than the average conforming loan. The jumbo-conforming spread dropped from 5 BPS in the prior report and 24 BPS a year prior.

A 2 percent week-over-week decline was recorded for refinances, while inquiries for refinances have plunged 56 percent from the same week in 2013.

Refinance share was 43.1 percent in the latest report, off from 43.7 percent seven days prior and 67.7 percent 12 months prior. Refinance share reflected a 29.4 percent rate-term share and a 13.7 percent cashout share.

Inquiries for purchase financing moved up nearly 1 percent and have climbed 23 percent over the past year.

A more than 1 percent increase was recorded for adjustable-rate mortgage business. ARM inquiries have more than doubled compared to a 12 months earlier. ARM share inched up to 13.9 percent from 13.7 percent and was just 4.7 percent a year ago.

A nearly 2 percent rise hit conventional business — the strongest category for the week. Conventional activity, however, was down 37 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Mortgage activity was little moved as conforming 30-year fixed rates crept up to 4.714 percent from 4.694 percent in the previous report. Thirty-year rates have soared versus 3.844 percent one year prior.

On 15-year mortgages, fixed rates averaged 100 BPS more than on 30-year loans, up from the 99-basis-point spread seven days earlier and 75-basis-point spread a year earlier.

Mortgage shoppers can expect little change in rates in the next Mortgage Market Index report based on Treasury market activity this week.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note averaged 2.72 percent during the period covered by the latest Mortgage Market Index report, according to Treasury Department data. The 10-year yield closed at 2.73 percent Friday.

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