Refinance volume increased 7 percent on the week, and applications to purchase a home jumped 10 percent, both seasonally adjusted. Purchase volume is now 15 percent higher than the same week one year ago, but refinance volume is off nearly 5 percent. The weekly move higher in refinances was likely due to the holiday skewing the trend. Refinances are still lower than they were two weeks ago. This all comes as rates continue to climb.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 4.17 percent, its highest level since November, from 4.02 percent, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans, according to the association.
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While higher rates make home buying more expensive, sharp moves higher often have the immediate effect of getting potential buyers off the fence, before chilling the overall market in the longer term. That is especially true now, in light of rising bond yields and the Federal Reserve's expected interest-rate hike.
"These increases really help the home-buying market. It really gets buyers to really understand that 'wait a minute, rates are at an all-time low, let's react now, let's react before they go higher,'" said Matt Weaver of Florida-based PMAC Lending.