Mortgage Applications Barely Budge Despite Rates Falling To A Three-Month Low

Mortgage applications inched up last week, moving just slightly despite rates falling to a three-month low.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey shows that the adjusted Market Composite Index — a measure of mortgage loan application volume — increased by 0.8%, adding to last week’s 0.9% bump. The results include an adjustment for the Juneteenth holiday.

Adjusted purchase applications increased by 1%, while the unadjusted index was down 10% and 13% lower YOY.

The boost was small despite rates falling to their lowest level in three months, 6.93%.

“Lower rates, however, were still not enough to entice refinance borrowers back, as most continue to hold mortgages with considerably lower rates,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist.

“Purchase applications did see a small increase after adjusting for the Juneteenth holiday. Government purchase loans, primarily FHA and VA, saw gains of more than 2% over the previous week, as homebuyers in those segments sought to take advantage of the recent rate relief.”

Buyers are facing elevated rates and record-high home prices, leading to a decline in existing home sales last month despite an inventory increase. Affordability remains a challenge, even as more Americans find they can’t wait any longer to move and list their homes.

Refinances were basically unchanged from the week prior and up 26% from the same time last year. They accounted for 35.1% of applications, a decrease.

Few homeowners would benefit from refinances right now. A majority of mortgage holders have rates well below today’s levels, and analysts largely predict that rates will be lower at the end of the year.

“The odds are good that rates will end 2024 lower than they are now,” Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage site, HSH.com, told CNET.

But predicting exactly how much lower is impossible. Homeowners saddled with rates above 7% from purchases last year may have better luck watching daily rates and settling for something in the mid-6%s.

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