Mortgage Rates Increase, Apps Fall as Coronavirus Rears Its Head

Mortgage Weekly Update

The coronavirus outbreak worsened this week, and its impact on mortgage activity was apparent. 

According to the most recent Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association, total mortgage applications decreased 29% over the week. Purchase applications were down 15% for the week and 11% for the year. Overall, it was the lowest point for purchase applications since August 2019. 

In states like California and New York, they plummeted even further, falling 23% and 35%, respectively. Washington state saw purchase applications drop 17% for the week.

Refinance applications also fell for the week, dropping 34%. They were still up over the year, though, clocking in at 195% higher than this time last year. Refis accounted for 69.3% of all activity for the month, down from almost 75% of all activity last week.

Here’s what Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, had to say about it: “Home purchase applications were notably impacted by rising rates and the widespread economic disruption and uncertainty over household employment and incomes … Potential homebuyers might continue to hold off on buying until there is a slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus and more clarity on the economic outlook.”

Other Mortgage and Housing News

  • Foreclosure actions have been halted on FHA-, Fannie Mae-, and Freddie Mac-guaranteed loans for 60 days. There’s now a moratorium on evictions in HUD-owned properties as well.
  • Video tours saw a jump. Redfin reported a 500% increase in just one week.
  • The Census Bureau released the most recent new home sales data. Sales were up 14% over the year. March’s numbers will likely see a downturn due to the pandemic.

All About Rates

The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans increased to 3.82%, up from 3.74% the week prior. It was the highest rate seen on 30-year loans in over two months, according to MBA.

“The 30-year fixed mortgage rate reached its highest level since mid-January last week, even as Treasury yields remained at relatively low levels,” Kan said. “Several factors pushed rates higher, including increased secondary market volatility, lenders grappling with capacity issues and backlogs in their pipelines, and remote work staffing challenges.”

Fortunately, this week could see rates lower, according to Kan — especially with the Federal Reserve’s recent moves to stabilize the market through mortgage-backed securities purchases. For now, here’s what we’re looking at for rates on each loan product:

  • All 30-year, fixed-rate loans: 3.82%, 0.35 points
  • Jumbo 30-year, fixed-rate loans: 3.84%, 0.35 points
  • FHA 30-year, fixed-rate loans: 3.69%, 0.43 points
  • 15-year, fixed-rate loans: 3.28%, 0.38 points
  • 5/1 ARMs: 3.38%, 0.26 points

Given the market’s current volatility, rates are constantly in flux. Be sure to check back here next week for the most up-to-date interest rate updates.


Information contained in this article may include links or references to third-party resources or content. Embrace Home Loans does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. If you follow these links, you will be linking to a third party website not operated by Embrace. We are not responsible for the content of that website and its privacy & security policies may differ from those practiced by Embrace.

​This information is distributed for professional use and is not intended to be shared with, or viewed by, consumers. To the average consumer, the information here may be misleading or exclude important disclosures.

Share this:

Aly Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer focusing on real estate, mortgage, and the housing market. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Bankrate, The Motley Fool, Business Insider, The Balance, and more. Prior to freelancing, she served as an editor and reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She graduated from Texas Christian University's Bob Schieffer College of Communication with a major in radio-TV-film and news-editorial journalism. Connect with her at or on Twitter at @AlyJwriter.