Refinance Applications Spike On Low Rates, HARP Changes
U.S. home buyers and homeowners continue to seek out great mortgage rates.
Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows that, for the week ending November 30, 2012, mortgage application volume increased 4.5 percent from the week prior.
Much of the increase is attributed to refinance applications.
Low Rates Spur Refinance Demand
The MBA's weekly mortgage application report includes a separate section for refinances and the MBA Refinance Index increased 6 percent on a week-over-week basis.
Not coincidentally, most mortgage rates made new lows at the end of November including the Freddie Mac average 30-year fixed conforming mortgage rate, and the 30-year fixed rate for an FHA Streamline Refinance.
Applications to refinance also accounted for a larger percentage of the total number of mortgage applications last week. Refinances, which include applications for HARP and the VA Streamline Refinance, comprised 83 percent of all mortgage applications during the week ending November 30.
During the week prior, refinances accounted for just 81 percent of overall applications.
HARP 2 : More Than 1 In 4 Mortgage Applications
Refinance applications received a considerable boost from the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). HARP is the government's mortgage program for underwater homeowners, and other homeowners whose homes have lost value since the time of purchase.
The current version of HARP is "HARP 2", named for the program's relaunch in October 2011. HARP 2 removed loan-to-value restrictions with the Home Affordable Refinance Program and made qualifying for the mortgage program otherwise easier.
HARP 2 refinance applications accounted for 27 percent of the total refinance applications filed during the week ending November 30.
This data is consistent with statistics from the Federal Home Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The FHFA's monthly HARP report showed approximately one-quarter of all conforming mortgage refinances during the third quarter were attributable to HARP.
Meanwhile, a separate report from the MBA forecasts that HARP refinance activity will fuel mortgage originations through 2013. The combination of ultra-low mortgage rates and the growing likelihood of a HARP 3 program have influenced the trade group to boost its refinance projections for 2013.