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Economy in Brief

Mortgage Applications Down
by Tom Moeller December 29, 2004

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Survey, total mortgage applications fell 1.7% last week to a level 39.4% below the peak in early March.

Purchase applications rose 2.7%, the first increase in three weeks. That pulled the average level in December 2.5% ahead of November. During the last ten years there has been a 59% correlation between the y/y change in purchase applications and the change in new plus existing home sales.

Applications to refinance mortgages fell 7.9% w/w. Refis have been falling erratically since the weekly peak during the Spring of 2003. Since then applications to refinance have fallen 82%.

The effective interest rate on a conventional 30-year mortgage rose slightly to 5.99% and so far in December has averaged 5.95% versus 5.97% in November and 6.53% during May. The effective rate on a 15-year mortgage also rose slightly to 5.45%.

The Mortgage Bankers Association surveys between 20 to 35 of the top lenders in the U.S. housing industry to derive its refinance, purchase and market indexes. The weekly survey accounts for more than 40% of all applications processed each week by mortgage lenders. Visit the Mortgage Bankers Association site here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (3/16/90=100) 12/24/04 12/17/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total Market Index 677.4 689.3 18.0% 1,067.9 799.7 625.6
  Purchase 483.8 471.1 24.0% 395.1 354.7 304.9
  Refinancing 1,803.9 1,958.2 9.7% 4,981.8 3,388.0 2,491.0
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