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Mortgage applications drop to 4-year low as interest rates hit 8-year high 

Key Points
  • Total mortgage application volume fell 4 percent last week from the previous week.
  • Volume was 16 percent lower than a year ago.
  • Rising interest rates are now weakening affordability further.
A man enters a Bank of America branch in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Rising interest rates are now clearly taking their toll on potential homebuyers. Total mortgage application volume fell 4 percent last week from a week earlier and plunged 16 percent from a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home led the volume lower, falling 5 percent for the week to the lowest level in two years. Purchase applications were 0.2 percent lower than a year ago.

"Housing supply has been quite constrained for several years. As a result, the housing market has been out of whack, with home prices increasing at twice the rate of income growth," said Michael Fratantoni, the MBA's chief economist. "That was not sustainable."

Rising interest rates are now weakening affordability further.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) increased to 5.15 percent from 5.11 percent, with points increasing to 0.51 from 0.50 (including the origination fee) for loans with 20 percent down payments. That is the highest rate since April 2010.

"Rates increased slightly last week, as various job market indicators showed a bounce back in job gains and an acceleration in wage growth in October," said Joel Kan, MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasts.

Mortgage applications to refinance a home loan have been falling for more than a year and fell 3 percent more last week. Volume was 33 percent lower than a year ago.

Rising interest rates have cut the number of eligible borrowers who could benefit from a refinance in half this year alone, according to new data from Black Knight.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 39.1 percent of total applications from 39.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 7.8 percent of total applications.

Mortgage rates continued to move higher at the start of this week but could see volatility later Wednesday, as the financial markets digest the results of the midterm elections.

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Key Points
  • The number of borrowers who could have benefited from a refinance this year alone dropped by 56 percent, according to a new report from real estate data analytics firm Black Knight.
  • These borrowers missed out on average monthly savings of about $252.00.
  • Since 2016, when rates were at rock bottom, 5.9 million borrowers who could have benefited from a refinance, did not apply for one.