April 14, 2024
Mortgage demand falls — despite a dip in the 30-year rate — as buyers struggle to find homes for sale

Mortgage demand falls — despite a dip in the 30-year rate — as buyers struggle to find homes for sale

The numbers: The rate for a 30-year mortgage dipped for the fourth week in a row, but buyers aren’t seizing the opportunity, as they can’t find many listings on the market.

Demand for mortgages fell 4.1% in the latest week as the 30-year fixed-loan rate dropped for the fourth consecutive week. 

Demand fell for both purchases and refinancing. That pushed the market composite index — a measure of mortgage application volume — up, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said Wednesday. 

The market index fell 4.1% to 217.9 for the week ending March 31 from a week earlier. A year ago, the index stood at 398.5.

Key details: The refinance index fell 5.4%, but was down 59% compared to a year ago. 

The purchase index — which measures mortgage applications for the purchase of a home — fell by 3.5% from the previous week. 

The average contract rate for a 30-year mortgage for homes sold for $726,200 or less was 6.4% for the week ending March 31.

That’s down from 6.45% the week before, the MBA said. 

For homes sold above $726,200, the average rate for the 30-year “jumbo” was 6.36%, up from 6.27% the previous week.

The 15-year rose to 5.97%, from the previous week’s 5.84%.

The rate for adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 5.61% from 5.62% previously.

The big picture: The 30-year mortgage for conforming balances — which most borrowers utilize — dropped, yet buyers haven’t been able to act, held back by low inventory. 

But the rise in rates for jumbo loans suggests that banks may be tightening credit in response to the banking crisis, the MBA noted.

What the MBA said: “Spring has arrived, but the housing market is missing the customary burst in listings and purchase activity that typically mark the season,” Mike Fratantoni, senior vice president and chief economist at the MBA, said.

“We do expect strong demand from first-time homebuyers over the next several years given the large number of millennials hitting peak first-time homebuyer age,” he added, “but affordability remains a real challenge in this environment.”

Market reaction: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 3.291% was below 3.4% in early morning trading Wednesday.

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