New money activity edged up last week for the first time in a few weeks, but a decline in refinancing pushed the overall metrics down, according to the latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
"The news in this week's release is that purchase applications, still recovering from a five-year low, increased 12% last week to the strongest level in almost a month," said Joel Kan, MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, in the trade group's announcement on Wednesday, April 29.
Kan said the 10 largest states all showed purchase application increases from the week before. He called that "potentially a sign of the start of an upturn in the pandemic-delayed spring homebuying season, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions slowly ease in various markets."
Other signs pointing to a nascent recovery, at least in homebuying in an economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, include jumps in "Windows" shopping on Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG) and last week's pending home sales report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
On the other hand, joblessness that continues to soar as multiple states make baby steps toward reopening their economy continues to underpin a relentless, unprecedented rise in mortgage forbearance rates.
Pockets of promise in hard-hit states
Kan singled out hard-hit Washington state, California, and New York for increases in new mortgage applications, the latter "seeing a significant gain after declines in five of the last six weeks."
This table shows the week-over-week and year-over-year percent change in the number of purchase applications from those three states: