Mortgage Applications Decreased Again Last Week as Rates Climbed

A for sale sign is posted in front of a home on March 22, 2023 in San Anselmo, California.

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Mortgage applications decreased 4.6% from the week before, as mortgage rates climbed again. 

Mortgage applications were down last week as the 30-year fixed rate increased to its highest level since March. At 6.69%, interest rates are keeping would-be home buyers on the sidelines.

“Since rates have been so volatile and for-sale inventory still scarce, we have yet to see sustained growth in purchase applications," said Joel Kan, MBA’s deputy chief economist.

Purchases also fell four percentage points over the week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Key Takeaways

  • Mortgage applications dropped 4.6% for the week ending May 19.
  • Mortgages for purchase fell 4% as a low inventory of available housing, and high mortgage rates discouraged buyers.
  • An increase in single-family housing starts may help address low inventory nationwide.

Homeowners looking to sell their homes are locked into lower rates, and as interest rates climb, would-be sellers are sitting out of the market. New single family housing starts have picked up in the meantime, but uncertainty remains about interest rates and the Federal Reserve’s response to inflation. 

“Investors remained attuned to the uncertainty around the U.S. debt ceiling and communication from several Federal Reserve officials last week, which sent Treasury yields higher, along with mortgage rates," Kan said. "Economic data released over the past week have also pointed to a still-resilient economy."

Refinance activity was still limited for the week ending May 19, with refinancing unchanged at 27.4% of total applications from the previous week. 

Rates increase across the board

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances jumped to 6.69% from 6.57% the week prior. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances, the average contract interest rate increased to 6.57% from 6.46% the week before. 

For federally-backed loans, the average contract interest rate for loans backed by the Federal Housing Authority increased to 6.56% from 6.39%. 

The FHA share of total applications also increased, ending the week at 12.5% from 12% the week before. The USDA share of total applications also increased to 0.5% from 0.4% the week before.

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  1. Mortgage Bankers Association, "Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey."

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