Application Volume Falters as Rates Inch Upward

Raw mortgage application volume decreased 9.8 percent for the week ending Jan. 16, according to a weekly survey released Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA’s refinance index also showed a decrease of 12.4 percent in raw refi applications, which have been gaining in popularity as mortgage interest rates crept downward in recent months. The refi share of raw mortgage activity decreased to 83.3 percent from the 85.3 percent reported for the previous week. The MBA’s purchase application increased 2.5 percent, with conventional purchase applications up 2.8 percent and government purchase activity — think, FHA loans — up 1.8 percent for the same week. A separate survey conducted by Mortgage Maxx LLC — which adjusts raw application volume so that multiple applications submitted by a single household are considered on entry — reported its Mortgage Application Index, or MAX, increased 10.8 percent for the week ending Jan. 16. The jump in household activity suggests significantly more households submitted substantially fewer applications for the week. The MAXcal — which isolates the data for a local glimpse of California — showed a 15.6 percent increase in household activity in the application market. The MAX publisher Paul Descloux, in his commentary on the index, acknowledged related news out Thursday that Freddie Mac (FRE) and both confirmed average mortgage interest rates have risen and the 30-year fixed-rate has topped 5 percent again, although he expressed optimism about the much-ballyhooed 4.5 percent goal. “Give it a couple of weeks, and perhaps 4.5 percent may be reached,” Descloux wrote. “Again the caveat is that unlike previous refi cycles, the qualification sluice has narrowed considerably whether simply by higher qualifying FICOs or lower home prices.” Visit and for further details Write to Diana Golobay at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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