Rates, Weather Tamp Down Mortgage Activity

Mortgage applications tumbled more than 11 percent last week amid higher interest rates and severe winter weather in parts of the country, according to a report released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The weekly survey found overall applications were down 11.4 percent for the week ending February 19, while refinances were down 11 percent for the week and up 50 percent over a year ago. Purchase applications were down 8 percent and up 7 percent from last year.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 68.5 percent of total applications from 69.3 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 2.7 percent of total applications.

“Mortgage rates have increased in six of the last eight weeks, with the benchmark 30-year fixed rate last week climbing above 3 percent to its highest level since September 2020. As a result of these higher rates, overall refinance activity fell 11 percent to its lowest level since December 2020, but remained 50 percent higher than a year ago,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Additionally, the severe winter weather in Texas affected many households and lenders, causing more than a 40 percent drop in both purchase and refinance applications in the state last week.”