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Mortgage applications stubbornly stagnant, says MBA

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WASHINGTON (3/13/14)--Mortgage application numbers continue to wallow, a recent Mortgage Banker's Association survey found, as the Market Composite Index (MCI) for applications receded by 2.1% for the week ending March 7.

MCI measures mortgage loan application volume.

Refinancing applications dropped by 3.1%--regressing to their weakest levels since November 2008--and purchasing sank by 0.5%, a number that hovers just above a post-recession low ( March 12).  

Despite an increase in mortgage interest rates for the week, for the most part rates over the last few months have remained stagnant as well.

Four-week moving averages look even bleaker.

The four-week moving average for refinance activity has dropped by 7% and sits 64% behind last year's level, while purchase applicants have dropped by almost 10% and are 17% lower than last year at this time.

Moody's doesn't paint a rosy picture for the near future either. If the economy doesn't produce stronger income growth, application demand likely will continue to suffer.

An influx in jobs in 2014 could boost the number of new households, but analysts predict the majority of new households that would form as a result would be renters, often millennials who wouldn't be able to come up with 20% down payments and quality credit.

MBA's weekly report also found:
  • Refinance applications accounted for 57% of all applications and carried 50% of the prospective loan volume.
  • The contract rate for 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages jumped 5 basis points to 4.52%, 7 points higher than four weeks ago and 71 basis points higher than a year ago.
  • The five-year adjustable-rate mortgage climbed 9 basis points, ending at 3.18% for the week. That interest rate sits 56 points higher than it did a year ago.