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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Recover As Interest Rates Are Stable
by Tom Moeller   October 26, 2011

The index of total mortgage applications recovered 4.9% last week to 664.0 (March 16, 1990 = 100). Nevertheless, the figure remained near the lowest since early-last month. Leading the rebound, weekly applications to purchase a home rose 6.4% w/w and recovered most of the prior week's decline. Applications to refinance also rose 4.4% but that recovered barely one quarter of the prior week's drop.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages was about unchanged w/w at 3.73% versus a September low of 3.57%. Nevertheless, rates remained near the record low. The effective rate on 30-year fixed rate loans also held at 4.46%. On a 30-year Jumbo mortgage the effective rate was 4.80%. Though it has narrowed slightly of late, the spread between 15- and 30-year loan rates continued wide by historical standards. The effective interest rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage was 3.30% versus 3.00% in early-September.

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) 10/21/11 10/14/11 10/7/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total Market Index 664.0 633.1 744.2 -19.9 659.3 736.4 642.9
 Purchase 171.7 161.4 177.1 2.7 199.8 263.5 345.4
 Refinancing 3,564.7 3,396.1 4,072.3 -23.3 3,348.1 3,509.2 2,394.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.73 3.72 3.65 3.94
4.39 4.85 5.88
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