Mortgage Applications Increase Incredible 49 percent in January

The Mortgage Corner

Mortgage applications increased 49.1 percent from one week earlier, said the just released Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 9, 2015. It was the largest increase since 2008 at the start of the Great Recession, mostly due to record-low interest rates. Some of the increase may also be because rental rates are soaring, making renting more expensive than paying for a mortgage in many areas with such low rates.

The Refinance Index increased 66 percent from the previous week to the highest level since July 2013. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 24 percent from one week earlier to the highest level since September 2013.

“The US economy and job market continued to show signs of strength, but weakness abroad and tumbling oil prices have led to further declines in longer-term interest rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist.


Graph: Calculated Risk

This is while the 30-yr conforming fixed rate dropped ¼ percent in one day to 3.25 percent for a 1.25 pt. origination cost. “Mortgage rates reached their lowest level since May of 2013, and refinance application volume soared, more than doubling on an unadjusted basis, and up 66 percent after adjusting for the fact that the previous week included the New Year’s holiday,” said Fratantoni.

Applications for larger refinance loans increased more than 4 times relative to the previous week. The average conventional refinance application increased to $298,700 from $233,500 the prior week. Although there was a somewhat smaller increase for government refinance volume, VA refinance applications increased by 50 percent. VA loans tend to be larger than FHA and USDA loans, and hence are more responsive to a given rate change.


Graph: Marketwatch

And the price to keep a roof over millennials’ heads rushed ahead of overall consumer inflation in 2014 as rents spiked up, according to just released data. The U.S. Labor Department’s gauge of prices for shelter—a broad category that includes items such as apartment rent and hotel stays—showed inflation of 2.9 percent in 2014, the fastest calendar-year result since 2007. Rent inflation reached 3.4 percent, the largest calendar-year growth since 2008.

It may be due to better job prospects, said the the MBA.

“In addition to the drop in rates, and news of improvement in the job market, there was additional positive news for prospective homebuyers with evidence that credit availability has increased somewhat, and with FHA’s announcement of a decrease in their mortgage insurance premiums,” Fratantoni said.

Purchase application volume increased by almost 24 percent, with stronger growth for conventional applications than for government loans. Purchase application volume was at its highest level since September 2013, increased on a year over year basis in the aggregate, and notably increased across most loan size categories, particularly for the conforming, middle of the market loan segments that had been weak for much of the past year. FHA purchase application volume was up by 17 percent for the week on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Harlan Green © 2015

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About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
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