Other than watching reports of rising interest rates, mortgage lenders and brokers probably weren't very busy last week. Mortgage application volume fell 1.7 percent for the week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted report. Volume was 15 percent lower compared with a year ago.
Extremely weak demand for mortgage refinances has been driving the overall drain on mortgage lending. Refinance volume fell 3 percent last week and was 32 percent lower than a year ago. The refinance share of total applications dropped to 39 percent. To get an idea of just how weak that is, the refinance share of total mortgage applications was 62 percent two years ago.
Refinance volume is highly rate-sensitive, and interest rates are now about a full percentage point higher than they were one year ago. Last week, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) increased to its highest level since February 2011, 5.05 percent, from 4.96 percent, with points increasing to 0.51 from 0.49 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20 percent down payment.
Read more in CNBC.