The Real Deal New York

U.S. applications for mortgage refinancing continue to drag overall activity

March 21, 2012 08:30AM

For a third consecutive week a decline in mortgage refinance applications has weighed down the U.S. mortgage market. According to weekly data released today by the Mortgage Bankers Association, total mortgage applications declined 7.4 percent for the week ending March 16.

While applications for mortgages fell just 1 percent, applications for refinances fell 9.3 percent week-over-week. The four week moving average for purchase applications is up 3.25 percent, but for refinances its down 4.31 percent. Refinances have fallen to 73.4 percent of all mortgage activity, an eight-month low, from 75.1 percent the previous week.

“With the rate increase last week, refinances are obviously slowing,” said Jay Brinkmann, senior vice president of research and education at MBA. “With rate/term refinances falling as we go forward, HARP will be a bigger percentage of refinances but will be more concentrated in certain states.”

The average loan size for US home purchases was 225,463 in February, up from $216,888 in January.

Mortgage rates increased significantly for the week across all mortgage types. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming balances had average rates of 4.19 percent, up from 4.06 percent the previous week. The rate for 30-year fixed-rate jumbo loans gained one-tenth of a percentage point to reach 4.49, while 30-year FHA-backed loans rose to 3.93 percent from 3.82 percent. Finally, 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages commanded interest rates of 3.47 percent after holding at 3.36 percent the previous week. — Adam Fusfeld