Raw Mortgage Application Volume Falls

Raw mortgage application volume slipped 15.1 percent for the week ending Feb. 20, according to a weekly survey released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The four-week moving average — a solid indicator of seasonal trends — showed a slight 0.4 percent increase, suggesting an overall static trend. The MBA, which also studies weekly trends in mortgage interest rates, reported that 30- and 15-year fixed rates increased from levels that have lingered at historic lows. As rates inch upward, and despite President Barack Obama’s $75 billion mortgage rescue plan complete with a homeowner incentive up to $5,000, confidence appears to be retreating from the application market. The refinance application index decreased 19.1 percent for the week, bringing refinance as a share of total mortgage activity down to 69.7 percent from 74.2 percent a week earlier, although the four-week moving refinance average inched upward 1.7 percent, according to the MBA’s data. While weekly refinance application activity weakened, refinance activity overall is edging back toward a recent surge in popularity. The seasonally adjusted purchase index slipped down 2.6 percent for the week — while the four-week moving average slipped 4.2 percent — hinting at continued consumer hesitance to enter the buyer’s market. The conventional purchase index decreased 4.4 percent while the government purchase index — think FHA activity — increased 0.8 percent, according to the data. A separate survey conducted by Mortgage Maxx LLC found that mortgage application activity adjusted for multiple submissions showed overall household activity in the application process rose 9.7 percent in the week ending Feb. 20. Household activity in California alone rose 15.1 percent, according to the MAXcal, which isolates data from the state. Combined with the MBA’s seasonally adjusted findings, the Mortgage Application Index — or MAX — suggests an influx in households submitted fewer applications this week. The MAX publisher Paul Descloux, in his commentary on the index, cautioned against undue optimism that household activity is increasing. “Next week’s index may indeed continue to fade” without the seasonal adjustment for President’s Day, he wrote. Visit www.mbaa.org and www.mortgagemaxx.us for further details. Write to Diana Golobay at diana.golobay@housingwire.com.

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