Mortgage rates fell 7 basis points this week, as Treasury yields pulled back, but that was no help for refinance activity, which has cooled in recent weeks.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell this week to 3.89 percent from 3.96 percent, according to Bankrate’s weekly survey of large lenders. A year ago, it was 5.01 percent. Four weeks ago, the rate was 3.96 percent. The 30-year fixed-rate average for this week is 1.12 percentage points below the 52-week high of 5.01 percent, and is 0.15 percentage points higher than the 52-week low of 3.74 percent.

Purchase applications get a boost as refinance activity declines

On the whole, mortgage applications fell by 2.2 percent from one week earlier, according to recent data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. MBA’s results include an adjustment for the Veterans Day holiday.

The purchase application share, however, rose by 7 percent from last week, which is 152 percent higher than this time last year. This might be a sign that the much-needed expansion in housing inventory is starting to materialize, says Joel Kan, MBA’s vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

Refinance activity, on the other hand, is dragging application volume down, even as rates stay below 4 percent. Last week, refinance activity fell by 8 percent, according to the MBA survey.

“Despite lower rates, mortgage applications decreased 2.2 percent, driven by an 8 percent slide in refinance activity,” Kan says. “Rates have stayed in the same narrow range of around 4 percent since July, so we may be starting to see the expected slowdown in refinancing as the pool of eligible homeowners shrinks.”

Mortgage rates this week

The 30-year fixed mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.32 discount and origination points.

Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 4.22 percent. This week’s rate is 0.33 percentage points lower than the 52-week average.

  • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.25 percent from 3.32 percent.
  • The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.60 percent from 3.76 percent.
  • The 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage fell to 3.77 percent from 3.85 percent.

At the current 30-year fixed rate, you’ll pay $471.10 each month for every $100,000 you borrow, down from $475.11 last week.

At the current 15-year fixed rate, you’ll pay $702.67 each month for every $100,000 you borrow, down from $706.08 last week.

At the current 5/1 ARM rate, you’ll pay $454.65 each month for every $100,000 you borrow, down from $463.68 last week.

Results of Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey of large lenders conducted November 20, 2019 and the effect on monthly payments for a $165,000 loan:

Weekly national mortgage survey
Breakdown 30-year fixed 15-year fixed 5-year ARM
This week’s rate: 3.89% 3.25% 3.60%
Change from last week: -0.07 -0.07 -0.16
Monthly payment: $777.31 $1,159.40 $750.16
Change from last week: -$6.63 -$5.63 -$14.92

The “Bankrate.com National Average,” or “national survey of large lenders,” is conducted weekly. The results of this survey are quoted in our weekly articles and national media outlets. To conduct the National Average survey, Bankrate obtains rate information from the 10 largest banks and thrifts in 10 large U.S. markets. In the Bankrate.com national survey, our Market Analysis team gathers rates and/or yields on banking deposits, loans and mortgages. We’ve conducted this survey in the same manner for more than 30 years, and because it’s consistently done the way it is, it gives an accurate national apples-to-apples comparison.