Home loan applications picked up last week as interest rates held steady, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The market composite index, a measure of overall mortgage application volume, rose 1.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before, according to MBA. The bulk of the increase can be attributed to a 2.3 percent gain in the index that tracks refinancings, followed by a 0.4 percent uptick in the purchase loan index.

Interest rates barely budged in the latest survey, as the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages inched up to 6.42 percent from 6.41 percent, the rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages held at 6.1 percent, and the rate on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) increased to 6.52 percent from 6.51 percent.

Points, which are loan-processing fees expressed as a percent of the total loan amount, averaged 1.09 on the 30-year loans, 1.16 on the 15-year, and 0.93 on one-year ARMs. These points include the origination fee and are based on loan-to-value ratios of 80 percent.

According to MBA, the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 41.4 percent of total applications from 40.4 percent the previous week, while the ARM share dropped from 15 percent to 12.6 percent.

The Mortgage Bankers Association survey covers approximately 50 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage originations, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.

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