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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Drop With Purchases & Refinancing
by Tom Moeller  July 27, 2011

Overall mortgage applications fell 5.0% last week. The decline left applications for the month down 5.2% versus June. Applications to refinance fell 5.5% and were down 7.1% for the month. Applications to purchase a home were off 3.8% w/w for the sixth decline in the last eight weeks. During the last ten years, there has been an 81% correlation between the level of purchase applications and new plus existing single family home sales.

The effective fixed-interest rate on conventional 15-year mortgages rose from the record low to 3.94% last week. As the yield curve has steepened, so too has the mortgage interest rate spread. For 30-year mortgages, the rate was 4.80% and the spread versus 15-year mortgages set a new a record. Interest rates on fixed 15-year mortgages are closely correlated (near-90%) with the rate on 10-year Treasury securities. At 7.19%, interest on variable rate financing held near the highest level since April.

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. The figures for weekly mortgage applications are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

BA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 7/22/11 7/15/11 7/8/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total Market Index 528.0 556.0 481.3 -26.7 659.3 736.4 642.9
 Purchase 176.7 183.7 183.9 2.6 199.8 263.5 345.4
 Refinancing 2,578.8 2,728.6 2,217.3 -34.2 3,348.1 3,509.2 2,394.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.94 3.90 3.96 4.32
(7/10)
4.39 4.85 5.88
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