Mortgage demand stalls, even as interest rates moderate

A “For Sale” sign is posted on the lawn in front of a home on March 15, 2024, in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

The usually busy spring housing market is underway, but mortgage demand is not budging. Application volume remained essentially flat last week, down 0.7% from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($766,550 or less) decreased from 6.97% to 6.93%, with points increasing from 0, 64 to 0.60 (including origination fees) for loans with a 20% down payment. payment.

Home loan refinancing requests fell 2% for the week and were 9% lower than the same week a year ago. Today, mortgage rates are still about half a percentage point higher than this time last year, so newer borrowers have no incentive to refinance. Anyone with a mortgage older than this probably has a rate that’s half of what’s currently offered.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 0.2% from the previous week and were down 16% year-over-year.

“Purchase applications were essentially unchanged as buyers continue to wait for lower mortgage rates and new listings to enter the market,” MBA economist Joel Kan said in a statement. “Lower rates should help release additional inventory as the lock-in effect is reduced, but we expect this to only happen gradually, as we expect rates to move towards 6 percent by the end of the year.”

Mortgage rates have generally moved sideways since the start of this week and are unlikely to change until next week, when new economic data is expected to be released.

“Rates are determined by bonds, and bonds wait for the most relevant economic data to comment on the direction of inflation and the broader economy,” wrote Matthew Graham, chief operating officer at Mortgage News Daily. “If inflation fell a little further or the economy showed clear signs of weakening, that would tip the scales in favor of a rate cut.”

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