The Mortgage Banker Association (MBA) released the numbers for its weekly survey known as the Market Composite Index. It registered seasonally adjusted 2.4 percent decrease in mortgage-related activities, for the week ending March 9, 2012, from the previous week. This index measures the volume of mortgage applications for both new home mortgage and mortgage refinance. The unadjusted figured shows a 1.8 percent decrease.
Applications for the home mortgages component rose 4.4 percent, on a seasonally adjusted basis, its highest level since January 6, 2012. The unadjusted home mortgage figure came in at 6.0 percent. Transactions for home purchase application represent 24.9% of the total mortgage activity, which increased from 23% the previous week.
Mortgage Bankers Association’s vice president of research and economic activities, Michael Fratantoni, reports a 12 percent gain over the prior month. According to Fratantoni, the numbers indicate that applications for home purchases have percolated within a “narrow range,” since the Homebuyer Tax Credit ended in March 2010.
In February, home mortgage applications increased 18 percent higher than January 2012. On an annual basis, the figure falls two percentage points below the year-to-date level.
Encouraging Signs for Home Sales
The expanded activity is heartening for homes sales activities. This is the fourth week in a row that residential mortgage applications from homebuyers have increased. Nonetheless, it still falls 7.8% lower for the same week, on a year-to-year basis.
Fratantoni says the mortgage applications volume is practically similar to the same period as last year. However, in February mortgage applications for home purchases increased 18% compared to January but fell two percent below figures a year ago.
Mortgage Refinance Applications Down
The news for the MBA’s Refinance Index did not fare as well as the home mortgages component. Applications for mortgage refinancing dropped 4.1%, compared to the previous week. This is the lowest ranking of the refinance Index since January 6, 2012. It also represents four straight weeks the refinance index has recorded a lower level than the previous week.
The recent downward trend in mortgage refinancing applications should reverse in the near future. Over the next few weeks, Fannie Mae expects to complete technological improvements to its system to enable the agency to process refinancing applications from lenders participating in the revised Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).
MBA has conducted the survey since 1990. The Market Composite Index consists of data gathered from more than 75% of the residential mortgage applications submitted in the United States. The Mortgage Banker Association polls mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrift institutions.