Demand for purchase loans rebounded last week to the highest level seen since April, as demand for housing remains strong and more listings become available in some markets.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey showed demand for purchase loans increasing by a seasonally adjusted 2 percent from the week before. Compared to a year ago, however, purchase loan applications were down 13 percent.

Requests to refinance were up 7 percent from a week ago, but down 5 percent from a year ago, accounting for 66.2 percent of all mortgage applications.

Joel Kan

“There was a resurgence in mortgage applications the week after Labor Day, with activity overall at its highest level in over a month, and purchase applications jumping to a high last seen in April 2021,” said the MBA’s Joel Kan, in a statement. “Housing demand is strong heading into the fall, despite fast-rising home prices and low inventory. The inventory situation is improving, with more new homes under construction and more homeowners listing their home for sale. Despite this week’s increase, purchase applications were still 13 percent lower than the same week a year ago.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported average rates for the following types of loans during the week ending Sept. 17:

For 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages (with loan balances of $548,250 or less), rates averaged 3.03 percent, unchanged from the week before. But with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans, the effective rate decreased from last week.

Rates for 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgages (with loan balances greater than $548,250) averaged 3.11 percent, down from 3.13 percent a week ago. Although points increased to 0.25 from 0.21, the effective rate still decreased from last week.

For 30-year fixed-rate FHA mortgages, rates averaged 3.07 percent, up from 3.04 percent the week before. Although points decreased to 0.25 from 0.27, the effective rate increased from last week.

Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, which are popular with homeowners refinancing their loans, averaged 2.51 percent, down from 2.68 percent a week ago. Points increasing to 0.29 from 0.28, but the effective rate still decreased from last week.

For 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), rates averaged 2.68 percent, down from 2.90 percent the week before. Although points increased to 0.12 from 0.11, the effective rate decreased from last week.

Mortgage rates have been on a fairly even keel for two months, with the Federal Reserve yet to release a timeline for tapering its purchases of bonds and mortgage-backed securities, which  have helped keep interest rates low during the pandemic.

The Fed, which hopes to avoid panicking bond investors and creating a “taper tantrum” that sends interest rates soaring, is expected to provide more clarity this week on its expected timeline for tapering.

In their latest monthly forecast, Fannie Mae economists said they expect rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to rise gradually next year, to an average of 3.2 percent during the fourth quarter of 2022.

Fannie Mae mortgage rate forecast

Average rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans by quarter. Rates after the second quarter of 2021 are projected. Source: Fannie Mae Economic and Housing Outlook, September 2021.

Email Matt Carter

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