Applications for purchases increased slightly in December following a four-month decline, according to Ellie Mae's Origination Insight Report, which tracks about 57% of all residential mortgage applications in the U.S.
About 56% of applications processed using the firm's origination software in December were for purchases, up from 54% in November. Applications for refinances, meanwhile, represented 43% of volume for the month, down from 45% in November.
Meanwhile, closing rates ended the year at 67.1%, the highest level since Ellie Mae began tracking this data in August 2011. The average time to close, however, rose to 42 days, up from 31 days in November.
During the month, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 4.273% to 4.251%, finishing the year more than a quarter of a percent lower than the average rate of 4.592% in December of 2013.
‘While many observers thought rates would rise last year, lenders were instead treated to at least a little more refinancing volume,’ says Jonathan Corr, president and chief operating officer for Ellie Mae, in a release. ‘The fact that lenders are closing purchase loans at a higher rate is great news as we head toward the spring home buying season.’
The percentage of closed loans with a FICO score less than 700 was 31%, the same as one year ago.