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Economy in Brief

Mortgage Applications About Flat
by Tom Moeller February 7, 2007

The total number of mortgage applications were about flat last week after a 3.2% jump at the end of January according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Purchase applications fell 0.8% marking the third decline in the last four weeks.

During the last ten years there has been a 58% correlation between the y/y change in purchase applications and the change in new plus existing single family home sales.

Applications to refinance were roughly unchanged after a sharp 4.9% gain during the prior week.

The effective interest rate on a conventional 30-year mortgage fell sharply to 6.44% and reversed most of the prior week's increase. Rates averaged 6.40% last month and 6.28% in December. The peak for 30 year financing was 7.08% late in June. Rates for 15-year financing also fell to 6.23%. Interest rates on 15 and 30 year mortgages are closely correlated (>90%) with the rate on 10 year Treasury securities.

During the last ten years there has been a (negative) 79% correlation between the level of applications for purchase and the effective interest rate on a 30-year mortgage.

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 covers roughly 50% of all U.S. residential mortgage applications processed each week by mortgage banks, commercial banks and thrifts. Visit the Mortgage Bankers Association site here.

Monetary Policy Inertia and Recent Fed Actions from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (3/16/90=100) 02/02/07 01/26/07 Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total Market Index 630.1 631.1 1.7% 584.2 708.6 735.1
  Purchase 404.7 408.0 -4.8% 406.9 470.9 454.5
  Refinancing 1,943.4 1,940.2 11.0% 1,634.0 2,092.3 2,366.8
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