Mortgage Applications Plunge: Composite Down 9.5%, Refinance Index Down 11.4%, Lowest Since July 2009

Tyler Durden's picture

The patently obvious deterioration in housing just took one big step for the worse, after the Mortgage Banker Association reported that the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 9.5 percent on a seasonally
adjusted basis from one week earlier.
The Refinance Index decreased
11.4 percent from the previous week and is the lowest Refinance Index
recorded in the survey
since the week ending July 3, 2009.
The seasonally adjusted
Purchase Index decreased 5.9 percent from one week earlier. And for the obligatory quote that confirms that Ben Bernanke's plan to fix the economy by raising rates or something, is about to blow up:
"Mortgage rates remained
above 5 percent last week, up almost a full percentage point from their
October lows, and refinance
volume continued to drop," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's
Vice President of Research and Economics. "Applications for home
purchases also declined on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Buyers
have not returned to the market as rising rates have reduced
affordability, to some extent.
" Bottom line: few people care to refinance (which is also making the QE Lite component of QE redundant), and even fewer people want to buy homes. So, again, what recovery?

From the MBA:

The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is down 4.5 percent.  The four week moving average is down 1.9 percent for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, while this average is down 6.2 percent for the Refinance Index.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 64.0 percent of total applications from 66.6 percent the previous week. This is the fourth straight week the share has declined. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.0 percent from 5.9 percent of total applications from the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.12 percent from 5.13 percent, with points increasing to 0.85 from 0.84 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans.  The effective rate also decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.34 percent from 4.29 percent, with points decreasing to 0.85 from 1.02 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. This is the highest contract 15-year rate observed in the survey since April 2010.  The effective rate also increased from last week.

We can't wait for Great Comrade and Wonderful Central Planner Bernank's explanation of why this collapse in refinancing activity is actually precisely as planned.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Dick Buttkiss's picture

Here's Mish on actual retail sales, which includes a very sobering homes sales chart. Stagflation, anyone? Or shall we go straight to hyperinflationary depression?

Oh regional Indian's picture

How about we go straight to the truth of the matter?

Expose the big lie?

Call the emperor naked?


cossack55's picture

There you go again, ORI.  Always with the truth chant.  Please.  Don't you realize most people can't hadle the truth (sounds like a good movie line....maybe JN).  I'm finding more and more people don't even want to hear it.  Fun times ahead, for sure.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Imagine my social life Cossack! :-)


papaswamp's picture

This is how they keep the CPI look housing deflation. The problem is people aren't buying a house everyday. The big move I'm waiting for the government to do is forgive all intra-governmental loans. This would whack $4.6 Trillion off the debt.

snowball777's picture

Jubilee for them, austerity for you?

ElvisDog's picture

Except someone or something is counting that $4.6T as an asset and is probably counting on it to pay someone at some point.

The Grip's picture

Speaking of Green Shoots...

Yesterday I received a notice from B of A indicating that it is transferring servicing of the note on my primary residence to "Green Tree" Servicing.

My assumption is that this is the special toxic waste dump for all paper originated by C(o)untrywide?

Zero Govt's picture

CNBC will be needing the forklift again to wheel out Steve Leisman with some 'happy data' to counter this story . . . . . . cue white noise ..."Steve, you're on"

Bob's picture

It's just like the morts--give them a wealth effect and they just don't know what to do with it.

snowball777's picture

I've got my 20% down, but I can assure you my hesitation about buying a house has more to do with rampant fraud in the mortgage industry and belief that the market will dip heavily again than the slightly higher interest rates.


cossack55's picture

I am looking at a 0% down transaction at this time.  I only have to wait until the piano is completley unpacked first.  Got a great spot picked out in a forrested area by a cute little creek.  Flood plain area, but its free.

Id fight Gandhi's picture

Vacant rotting McMansions and condos. Long live the great recovery.

snowball777's picture

Why do I have an image of a pup tent with a baby grand next to it in my head?

Founders Keeper's picture

[...and belief that the market will dip heavily again than the slightly higher interest rates.]---snowball777

Yes, that's a difficult place from which to make a decision to buy a house:

Knowing house values have still to fall dramatically> ???? <Knowing mortgage rates will soon rise dramatically.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. It's risk full-on as a far as the eye can see.


snowball777's picture

Only a problem if buying requires me to borrow. ;)

Wynn's picture

Just think of all those poor MERS loans in need of a new, clean title.

blindfaith's picture

Well Wynn, at least you understand.



The only way these titles can be "cleaned" is if the USA congress passes a 'land title' repair act and it is signed by "a" president ( notice I did not say this president who allowed this to get this bad and did nothing).  Why would it take a congressional declaration?  Because it is an interstate matter, with interstate interests according to the commercial credit laws, and because there are also international interests in the shadows.  These boys all know this is the only clean and true answer to the snake pit that real estate finds itself in.

These titles that judges are handing over to banks and to 'new owners' are only going to make matters worse.

Serious advice to anyone thinking to buy property...if it has had any mortgage on it during the last 11 years is likely a time bomb (outside of a private or perhaps local bank who held the mortgage and can prove it never left their possession).

oh_bama's picture

Big deal. Everyone knows. Ask yourself: Is it more powerful than the POMOs and QEs?

Just BTFD, and be a winner!


Bob's picture

MOMO it is!  Ya gotta luv biflation . . .

Sam Clemons's picture

Let me guess.  This was unexpected.

johnQpublic's picture

maybe one of the reasons not alot of people took the option to refi at the lows in october, is the fact that it can take years to break even on a refi even if your payment goes down. Ours will take just under four years to braek even and we lowered our payment and went from a 30yr to a 20yr.

closing costs are a bitch, even paying no points

i'm sure alot of people balk at paying 4400 bucks to borrow less from the same bank as they had the loan with originally

same house, same or lower loan,same bank

adjust for inflation and its a losing prospect obvious to anyone with a calculator

32k paper savings over twenty years adjusted for inflation using the govts own figures is but 8k savings in reality

4400 now to save 8k over twenty years

net gain 3600 bucks....if my wife wasnt so adamant about it, i woulda said no

and thats the math on 225k at 5.625 vs 4.125

with 25% equity that was 43% equity(befor crash)

obviously ours was a best case scenario and the savings is basically zero

the bank gives a nice puffy happy savings number that is much higher, but its not reality


the 'slump' in refi's is people waking up to the reality of the math

and we havent even mentioned unemployment,rising taxes as house values plummet,underwater mortgages,and the generally negative feelings about the economy


johnQpublic's picture

one more thing:


notice 'flip that house' replaced by 'income property'

'million dollar listings' replaced by 'storage wars'

'auction kings'

pawn stars

2 other pawn shop shows i dont know names of

3 auction shows on tv

3 storage unit takeover shows on tv......when you cant pay your storage bill, you lose your shit

american pickers

the shift is there for everyone to see

theres no money to be made flipping houses so pawn your shit or sell it at auction or lose it is the new message

at a minimum theres a subliminal message there

welcome to the new normal

soon to come

"american nomads" tv show about people living in their cars

i think the add was on A+E...mighta been TLC

snowball777's picture

From home repair to home defense.

MachoMan's picture

If you notice on the flip that house episodes, they've redone them and the dates are often from 2010+...  basically, the parenthetical on the show information would show 2006/2007 vintage flips and my guess is people called bullshit...  then they put 2010 on it and people said, "hey, i've already seen this episode and it was from 2006/2007, so I'm calling bullshit."  So, now we get flooded with more appropriate programming...

PS, hardcore pawn is pretty sobering...  as someone who is planning on opening up a pawn shop, the patrons coming in and telling the owner, "I need $700, here is this jewelry piece."  The owner looks at it, "I can give you $100, I will only get $80 wholesale from it if I sell it."  Patron, "NO!!!!!! I TOLD YOU I NEED $700!!! YOU DONT CARE ABOUT ME!  YOU JUST CARE ABOUT YOURSELF!"...  Why be in the pawn business when apparently it is your god given obligation to pull down your trousers and grab your ankles for every person that cares to have a go?  Crazy...

ElvisDog's picture

It's not just closing costs. I just helped my mom buy a house, and the number of people who have their hands held out on a real estate transaction these days is staggering. The total expense for various fees, taxes, inspections, etc., etc., was around $16K. So if you buy a house, even if you pay cash which my mom did, you are immediately underwater on the purchase. I think the lower rate of transactions have caused all these desperate RE people to pile on to whatever transactions are being made.

bankonzhongguo's picture

I checked into a "streamline" FHA refi for a neighbor.  The secret sauce is the re-payment of the fraudulent Private Mortgage Insurance - 1.5% of the price.  (There is a lost story - how often do banks collect on their PMI losses these last years?  That is a ton of premiums paid - for what?) So a loan refi of $300,000 needs $4,500 minus credit upfront PMI fees never-mind all the other crap - you do it to avoid the appraisal and inability to refi on your underwater home.  And that adjusts your mortgage from 6.5% to 5.5%?  Please.  This Fourth Turning needs to change to First Turning and people will need to just bite the bullet and pay-down the principal on their loans.  I think one is better off just taking any extra money paid in a refi costing costs and reduce the principal directly and then force the bank to adjust/reset the loan every 6-12 months - its a pretty standard term.  You have to ask for it special.  You are still getting a tax deduction on the interest expense, so maybe you are getting something back on that little amount of extra interest every year.  The whole "extra" mortgage payment a year deal takes 5 years off the 30 year term.  Paying a third more each month effective cuts your mortgage term in half and you wind up paying over a half less on interest.  Blah blah blah.  Then again you can just torch it if things don't go your way.  Cut ports into exterior walls sheet rock exposing multiple framing studs.  Lay hay bale near opening.  Open all house windows and doors. Fill liquid sprayer with 1 part gasoline and 2 parts motor oil.  Pressurize.  Apply liberal coating to surfaces.  Start upstairs and work toward front door.  Move to other country. Never return.

MachoMan's picture

No PMI for 80% LTV...  if you can't find a favorable appraisal or don't have the cash, then the cost of business is too high.

Cdad's picture

Cue J. Dimon whining about how it is not fair that useless unemployed people are not doing their part to lift the fictitious value of his entirely fictitious mortgage book while simultaneously lowering loan loss reserves and raising the bonus pool.

Bankers just never get a break...and it's just not fair.

snowball777's picture

Maybe Phil Gramm can give us another 'pep talk'.

jbc77's picture

No suprise that there ZERO reaction from the capital markets on this wonderful news.

bronzie's picture

according to Martin Armstrong's cycle work the current downturn in the housing market won't bottom until 2032

other posters mentioned some of the reasons that Martin may be correct:

- rising interest rates

- MERS (and other fraudulent activities: robo-signing, fraud-closure) creates uncertainty about ownership (clouded titles)

here are just a few more trends that will contribute to Martin's prediction:

- demographics - boomers will be downsizing into coffins and urns for the next 20 years

- increasing unemployment - 22% and climbing (

- increasing duration of unemployment once the job is lost

- 2 years of visible for-sale inventory (anything over 8 months usually means that price pressure is downward)

- ?? years of shadow inventory: people "waiting for the market to come back" before they sell, living in the house but not paying mortgage, REOs, somewhere in the foreclosure process but not yet REO

- glut of condos yet to be completed / sold - this is true of most major cities in the country

- banks are only originating mortgages that they can sell to Fannie and Freddie (ie, the govt) - this is 95%+ of the mortgage market and govt is starting to talk about doing away with the GSEs

did I miss anything?

snowball777's picture

Even those who are employed are uncertain enough about job security to avoid risking more debt.

Call it the "Paradox of Grift".

MachoMan's picture

Bingo.  I'm about to start a business or two and, out of an abundance of caution, I am going to sell my house to relieve the debt load and rent...  If I am going to have any debt, then that debt had better damn well be working for me rather than as a consumptive expense...  (or at least have the possibility of working for me, heh).

Mach1513's picture

Re-fi? Don't you need equity for that? Or a lot of cash on the sidelines?

Over 50% of homes under water when adjusted for re-fi costs.

Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Fuck me. I own a construction comapny. Time to find a new "recession proof" business. Anybody know of any shithole bars for sale? Heineken? FUCK THAT SHIT! Pabst Blue Ribbon, bitchez!



snowball777's picture

Was helping a friend with some foundation work and we found an ancient can of Pabst the crew had left when the place was built in the 60s.

Unclear if it tasted any worse than when it was brewed.

LFMayor's picture

I bet it still gifted a full power dose of the green beer shitz, though.

Life of Illusion's picture

Gov. is choosing who stays in homes, gets note mods, foreclosed or not, inventory control, 95% of loans issued and on and on.

Government controlled housing for a country in decline, all built via fraud. Unlike other countries turned into a third world we built in advance for the people.

Problem Is's picture

"Great Comrade and Wonderful Central Planner Bernank's explanation of why this collapse in refinancing activity is actually precisely as planned."

I will wait for the "brilliant" Lawerence Yun, economist at the National Ass(ociation) of Realtors to weigh in...