Ralph Cramden used to exclaim "To the Moon!" in periods of exasperation or frustration on the Honeymooners in days gone by. To those who remember, that was about the last time interest rates on mortgages were as low as they are right now. Chances are that you are not a mortgage banker if you have time to read this right now as the low rates have touched off another phase of refinancing that has led volumes "To the Moon".
The MBA Weekly Application Survey was established in late 1989 with an index level of 100 the week of March 16, 1990 as the reference point for activity level. The week ending November 2, 2001 the refinancing index stood at 5223. What does that mean? Roughly, it means refinancing applications were being placed at a rate 52 times that of January 1990. It means that the dollar volume of refinance loans in 2001 (estimated at over $960 billion) will exceed total originations in 1990 ($458 billion). In fact, refinance volume in 2001 will be greater than total originations in all but four years since the beginning of the 1990s.