Higher interest rates crush mortgage application volume, down 9.4% – CNBC

The highest interest rates in well over a year are putting a dent in the mortgage business.

Total mortgage application volume fell 9.4 percent last week versus the previous week, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The Mortgage Bankers Association adjusted the weekly reading to account for the Thanksgiving holiday. Volume was 0.5 percent lower than the same week one year ago, the first annual drop in total volume since January.

“Mortgage lenders have been very thankful for a strong 2016 in terms of origination activity. However, mortgage application volume in the Thanksgiving week dropped sharply to the lowest level since early January, as mortgage rates increased to their highest point since July, 2015,” said Michael Fratantoni, chief economist for the MBA.

Refinance volume has been falling steadily as rates rise, but it took another sharp drop, down 16 percent for the week, seasonally adjusted. Refinances are most rate sensitive and are now down 3 percent from a year ago, when rates were not much different than they are today.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 4.23 percent last week from 4.16 percent, with points increasing to 0.41 from 0.39 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

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