Mortgage applications at 2-decade low

|By:, SA News Editor

"Purchase applications were little changed on an unadjusted basis last week, but this is the time of a year we would expect a significant pickup in purchase activity, and we are not yet seeing it," says the MBA's Mike Fratantoni, commenting on the latest mortgage application data.

Overall applications slipped 8.5% for the week, led by an 11% drop in refinances.

The seasonally adjusted purchase application index fell 4% from a year ago to the lowest level since 1995. Bad weather is a convenient excuse, but Diana Olick notes January home sales fell the most in the West where weather was not a factor.

"We're going from an investor-led housing market to an end user-led housing market, and that's creating a lot of problems," says housing analyst Mark Hanson.

A few names to keep an eye on include: Wells Fargo (WFC), PennyMac Financial Services (PFSI), Nationstar Mortgage (NSM).