The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey provides data on home lending activity in the United States. It is based on a survey of mortgage lenders and servicing companies and is estimated to capture 75 percent of all application volume for single family homes. The MBA provides weekly data on mortgage application volume and sub-indices for refinancing and purchase volume. In addition, average interest rates for both government-backed and jumbo mortgages is provided. The MBA data include mortgage applications for the purchase of a single-family home. Co-ops, apartments and other multi-family dwelling units are not included.
According to the MBA, mortgage applications increased 1.2 percent in the week ending May 23 from one week earlier. The Refinance Index was down 1 percent, and the unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 15 percent lower than the same week one year ago. MBA reported that the average contract interest rate for smaller 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances decreased to 4.31 percent, its lowest level since June 2013, while jumbo 30-year fixed rates were at 4.23 percent, again the lowest rate since June of last year.
The MBA indices provide a good estimate of activity in the housing market, which is an important part of the economy, and continued growth in home sales will eventually lead to increased construction, and construction related economic activity.
These figures are mirrored in the poor GDP reports for the first quarter. A sluggish housing market is putting downward pressure on both the economy and mortgage rates, as well as Federal Reserve policies to keep long term rates low through continued Quantitative Easing.
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