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March Rate Lock Activity Increases

Mortgage Capital Trading, Inc. (MCT) has released its March MCTlive! Lock Volume Indices, which show that after a downward trend in February, lock volume increased across the board for the month. Purchase lock activity was up 23% compared to February, rate/term refinance volume was up 39%, and cash-out refinance volume was up 28%. Lock activity in total was up 24% versus February. The fall of Silicon Valley Bank and the expectation of the fed to ease rate hikes resulted in a modest drop in mortgage rates in March. As the fed reaches for its terminal fed funds rate and we begin moving into the spring, we should see the affect on purchase activity.

As it stands, total lock activity is still down 32% from a year ago. That is primarily due to a drop off in refinance demand, as purchase lock activity sits 21% lower than at the same point last year. Rate and term refinance volume is down 63% from one year ago, and cash-out refinance volume is down 75% over that same period.

It is important to note that MCT’s rate lock activity indices are based on actual dollar volume of locked loans, not number of applications. Especially in a tight purchase market, MCT believes its methodology (using actual loans locked vs. applications) is a more reliable metric. There is a higher likelihood of having multiple applications per funded loan, and prequals do not convert at as high of a rate in the current market as has historically been the case – especially when applications are counted at the early stage of entering a property address.

MCT Data represents a balanced cross section of several hundred lenders among retail, correspondent, wholesale, and consumer direct channels. A broad-based view of the entire market provides a more accurate picture of mortgage originations versus indices that are influenced by mega lenders. The March MCTlive! Lock Volume Indices is broken out by transaction type: purchase, rate/term refinance, and cash out refinance.