Mortgage rates jump, but applications and other news do too

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

(Photo illustration by The Real Deal via Getty Images)

Volatility in the housing market has created an oddity: mortgage rates and demand for mortgages are rising side by side.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association Weekly Review, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage contract was 6.25 percent last week. The rate jumped 24 basis points from the previous week’s average of 6.01 percent, the highest in almost 14 years.

As rates hit new highs, the report showed a surprising confluence in the market as the rise was matched by rising demand.

Claims increased 3.8 percent from the previous week for the period ending September 16. It was the first rise in demand in six weeks.

Joel Kahn, chief executive of the MBA, cited market volatility as a factor in increasing demand despite the rate hike.

“As with rate fluctuations and other uncertainties in the housing market and the broader economy, mortgage applications increased for the first time in six weeks, but remained well below last year’s levels,” Kan said in a press release.

Homebuyers may be forecasting deeper increases in mortgage rates in the near future. Mortgage rates usually – though not always – go up when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, which is expected to happen at Wednesday’s meeting.

However, activity remains well below last year’s levels. Purchase applications fell 30 percent year on year, and refinancing activity dropped 83 percent.

Refinancing accounted for more than 32 percent of mortgage applications last week. The share of mortgages with adjustable interest rates, meanwhile, remained stable at 9% of total applications.

The average contract interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a large loan balance – more than $647,200 – increased to 5.79 percent. The average contractual interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.40 percent.

Buyers are still struggling with mortgage rates, which hit record lows at the start of the pandemic, driving the housing market into a frenzy, only for them to rise again as the Fed hiked interest rates to slow inflation, pushing back some buyers.

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