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Mortgage applications continue to rise

Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 11:30:39 AM

Early 2016 has proven to be a popular time for residential financing. Another big refinancing jump pushed mortgage applications up 8.2 percent from one week earlier, according to the most recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Overall, the refinance share of mortgage activity increased from 61.2 percent to 64.3 percent of total applications - its highest level since February 2015. Adjustable-rate mortgage applications increased to 6.7 percent in the same time period. 

Meanwhile, the share of applications for FHA loans in overall mortgage activity decreased slightly, down to 11.5 percent from 12.3 percent the week before. 

As mortgage applications rose yet again, January housing starts stumbled. A joint release from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau announced that privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of more than 1.09 million last month, or a 3.8 percent decline from December's revised estimate of 1.14 million. 

Single-family housing starts fell by 3.9 percent to 720,000 in January. Despite the decline, industry confidence has stayed high. 

"Seasonal weather and the recent uncertainty in the stock market are likely explanations for the decline in January housing starts," said Quicken Loans vice president Bill Banfield.

"Taking a step back to look at year-over-year growth, we continue to see healthy and steady gains," he said. "It should be noted that near record low mortgage rates and increased credit availability should give a boost to potential homebuyers as we move through the winter months."