After a rapid rise over the last few weeks, a major indicator for mortgage refinance activities in the United States, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, showed the volume of consumers applying for a mortgage loan increased for the week ending February 18, 2011. This comes on top of steady declines in the volume of applications for the previous two weeks. The survey, which comes out every Wednesday, examines 15 measurements covering mortgage loan activity. The data compiled in the report includes:
- Loan size
- Conventional fixed-rate mortgage loan applications
- Percentage of refinances and ARM portion of total application by application and dollars
- FHA and VA loan applications for refinances and purchases
- Percentage change in dollar volume of mortgage application – for week, month and year
- Average interest rate and points for six common mortgage products
How the MBA Computes the Index
The data used for mortgage loan applications come from a market survey performed by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The survey covers about 40 percent of the retail residential loan originations in the United States. The MBA began conducting this weekly survey in 1990. Mortgage loan professionals and industry analyst long considered the MBA survey a reliable predictor of market direction particularly because of the breath of the sample size. The survey’s information comes from a variety of sources, including thrifts, commercial banks and mortgage bankers.
The base period for the weekly report dates back to March 16, 1990. The baseline equals “100.” Since home loan applications takes place in the initial stages of the home buying process, the “lagging indicator” forecasts short-term sale activity. Businesses and consumers who use the survey to make business decisions should not rely on it totally
Strategies for Potential Home Buyers
Even with the momentary stabilization in home mortgage rates, uncertainty in the U.S. Treasury auction market makes it difficult to gauge if mortgage interest rates have retreated. If you are trying to decide whether to refinance or apply for a home mortgage, do not count on rates dropping further. You may want to go ahead and lock in interest rates on a home mortgage loan. Consumers with the funds to “buy down” the mortgage rate on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage can avoid having to choose an adjustable rate mortgage. This is how a mortgage buy down works:
- The home buyer or seller pays cash upfront to “buy down” the “real” mortgage interest rate
- The lender computes the mortgage based on a lower interest rate over the term of the mortgage. This results in a lower fixed monthly payment.
Your mortgage loan officer can help you make an informed decision. Ask for a breakeven analysis loan origination points. Do not hesitate to ask the seller to help pay down the interest rate on your home mortgage loan. Take advantage of this “buyer’s market.” Many sellers have the necessary motivation to negotiate to move their property.