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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Jump Again With More Refinancing
by Tom Moeller   August 17, 2011

The total index of mortgage applications rose another 4.1% last week to 716.4 (March 16, 1990 = 100). Again, the gain was in applications to refinance which rose 8.0% after the prior week's near one-third jump. Applications to purchase a home fell 9.1% and remained the lowest since 1997. Applications for both fixed-rate and variable rate financing have risen by one-third during the last few weeks, though the real strength has been in fixed-rate loans as borrowers want to lock in low rates.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages dropped during the last two weeks and set a new record low of 3.74%. The effective rate on 30-year fixed rate loans also fell to 4.49%. Interest rates on adjustable-rate financing remained relatively dear at 7.38%.

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.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 8/12/11 8/05/11 7/29/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total Market Index 716.4 688.0 565.3 -13.7 659.3 736.4 642.9
 Purchase 167.5 184.2 185.8 -1.1 199.8 263.5 345.4
 Refinancing 3.915.5 3625.7 2,780.5 -16.3 3,348.1 3,509.2 2,394.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.74 3.76 3.78 4.26
4.39 4.85 5.88
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