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The Highest Interest Rates In 7 Years Have Hurt Mortgage Applications

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This morning we received updated data for US mortgage applications. The reading suggests that higher rates are in fact hurting applications. As shown below, the 30-year mortgage rate now sits at roughly 4.6%, the highest level in nearly 7 years.

Higher rates have led to steady declines in weekly mortgage applications overall. This past week mortgage applications fell -2.6%, following a drop of -2.7% a week ago. Additionally, the sub-index for mortgage refinancing slipped -3.7%, highlighting the broader vulnerability within mortgage applications. Below we highlight how mortgage applications have now fell for 5 straight weeks, the most extended stretch since mid-2015.

The last chart I wanted to highlight is applications for mortgage refinancing as a percent of total mortgage applications. This reading peaked in 2012 and has decreased significantly. At 35.7%, refinancing is at the lowest level since 2008. We think there are two motivations to this.

First, mortgage rates bottomed in 2012 at around 3.38%. Hence, it has not been advantageous for most mortgage holders to refinance since.

Secondarily, there is a structural shift taking place as more millennials buy homes for the first time. Millenials are the most significant cohort of the population and therefore refinancing becomes less of an option overall.

Rates remain a key focus to me as it has substantial implications across housing, credit conditions, and consumption trends. We continue to preach that higher rates and sustained higher oil ("deadly duo") will begin to impact consumption habits in the back half of 2018, early 2019.

Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation for purchase or sale of any securities.

Avory & Co. is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only. Please see the full disclaimer here.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

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