The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50% of all residential mortgage originations. It tracks the average interest rate for 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications. The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new- and existing-home purchases.
The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) increased one basis point to 4.44% since last week, while purchase application volume declined 3% and refinance application volume decreased 4% over the same period. Rates now appear to possibly be trending down after weeks of explosive increases that saw a rise of over 100 basis points. That was seemingly directly correlated with the Fed's recent suggestion that it may start to wind down GSE purchases later this year.
It appears now, however, that Chairman Bernanke's latest comments might have worked to provide a bit more clarity surrounding the Fed's plans for QE, thereby working to halt the recent run-up in rates. The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages since 2006 as well as purchase, refinance, and composite loan volumes.