Refinancing Tumbles as Mortgage Rates Start Rising

Paul Ausick
March 26, 2014

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its weekly report on mortgage applications Wednesday morning, noting a decrease of 3.5% in the group's seasonally adjusted composite index. That followed a rise of 0.2% for the previous week. The prior week index was revised from the originally reported decline of 1.2% for the week ending March 14. Mortgage loan rates rose on all types of loans last week.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index increased by 3% from the prior week's report. On an unadjusted basis, the composite index decreased by 3% week-over-week. The unadjusted purchase index rose 3% for the week, but is 17% lower year-over-year.

Adjustable rate mortgage loans account for 8% of all applications, unchanged from a week ago.

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The MBA's refinance index decreased by 8%, after declining by 1% in the previous week. The share of refinancings fell for the seventh consecutive week to 54% of all applications, the lowest level since April 2010.

The average mortgage loan rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 4.50% to 4.56%. The rate for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 4.39% to 4.45%. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 3.52% to 3.62%.

The contract interest rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage loan fell from 3.09% to 3.22%, its highest level since January.

Refinancing continues to slide and is now down 72% from levels of May 2013, when 76% of loan applications came from home owners wanting to refinance mortgages. Mortgage interest rates, though about 1% higher than a year ago, remain historically low for home buyers. But rising home prices are making it difficult for first-time buyers to enter the market.

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