An easing in mortgage interest rates to a near 15-month low did little to spur mortgage application activity throughout the month of September, according to market reports. Macroeconomic research firm Capital Economics reported that loan application volumes last month were down 1 percent compared to August. The company’s calculations are based on weekly figures released by the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Refinancing application activity dipped 2-point-4 percent in September, according to Capital Economics, turning around after August’s 2 percent gain and putting refinance apps at their lowest level since 2008. Meanwhile, home purchase loan applications picked up half a percent month-to-month, barely putting a dent in the declines recorded over the summer months. The increase was sparked by a rise in conventional applications, which helped offset a slight decrease in applications for government-backed loans.
In a report on Wednesday, the Commerce Department estimated construction spending for the month of August was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $961 billion, a decrease of 0.8 percent from July’s revised estimate. Overall, spending on residential projects was down a tenth of a percent over the month to an annual rate of $357.2 billion, the government reported. The drop included a 0.1 percent falloff in private homebuilding from July, though the much smaller public residential construction category saw a small increase. The drop in spending on new home construction jibes with preliminary Census reports of a more than 14 percent month-over-month drop in housing starts in August, including a 2.4 percent decrease in single-family units.