Mortgage applications during the week ended March 13 rose 21.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous week, bolstered by close to a 30% week-to-week jump in refinancing that some think could mark the beginning of an upward trend.
Although the most recent uptick in apps followed the introduction of the government Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) on March 4, market participants and observers generally think it probably does not yet reflect that program's effects.
This means app numbers, already moving at a relatively fast clip, could continue to increase going forward. Researchers specializing in U.S. securitized product modeling at Barclays Capital said since HARP made its debut on March 4 and is set to allow mortgages made under it to be delivered to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by April 1,
"It is not clear whether lenders have had time to update their underwriting process since HARP details were unveiled." Heidi Frigano, chief sales officer at Lend America, Melville, N.Y., told MortgageWire her company, which offers the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) existing but evolving Hope for Homeowners refinance program, has seen borrowers and their lenders continued to show interest in that program over HARP programs at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that have not fully geared up.
She said warmer weather and buyer-friendly inventory and prices also have started and may continue to bolster purchase volumes as well as refis. She called the increase in refi applications in the most recent week "slight" in comparison to the larger upward trend over the last couple of months.