Mortgage applications fell sharply in the final week of 2018, extending a downward trend which has seen declining consumer demand for traditional home purchase financing as investors continued to show a preference for safer US treasuries.

Applications for mortgages fell by nearly 10% from two weeks earlier, according to survey data from the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA) which covered more than 75% of all US retail and consumer direct residential mortgage applications, for the week ending December 28.

The Market Composite Index decreased by 9.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis from two weeks earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased by 46% compared to two weeks ago.

“Mortgage applications fell over the past two weeks – even as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 4.84%, its lowest since September,” MBA Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting Joel Kan said. “Investors continued to show a preference for safer US Treasuries, as concerns over US and global economic growth, along with uncertainty over the current government shutdown, drove rates lower.”

Kan noted that even with lower borrowing costs, both purchase and refinance applications decreased over the two-week holiday period, as both conventional and government applications dropped.