Rate Drop Boosts Mortgage Application Volume

December 13, 2018
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Photo: Unsplash/JJ Ying

In the first full week of December 2018, interest rates decreased to the lowest level since September, helping push up mortgage application volume 1.6 percent week-over-week.

Annually, volume was down 16 percent, per the latest index data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average contract interest rate was 4.96 percent for the week, the biggest single-week decline in more than a year, CNBC reports. MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting Joel Kan says, "Mortgage rates fell across the board last week, driven by a similar slide in Treasury. Trade fears dominated investors' concerns for another week, and this was amplified by data released by the U.S. Commerce Department showing a widening trade deficit."

Mortgage applications to refinance a home loan increased 2 percent last week but were still 34 percent lower than a year ago, when interest rates were 72 basis points lower. Rates have fallen 21 basis points in the past two weeks, and while refinances are highly sensitive to weekly rate moves, millions of borrowers have already refinanced to record-low interest rates in the past few years, so the pool of potential refinancers is relatively small.

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