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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Rise Further
by Tom Moeller  December 14, 2011

The index of total mortgage applications increased 4.1% last week to 677.0 (March 16, 1990 = 100). The gain added to the prior week's 12.8% rise. Applications to refinance jumped 9.3% (22.8% y/y) to the highest level since early November. Applications to purchase a home fell 8.2% and reversed the prior week's gain. Applications were off two-thirds from the 2005 high. Applications for an adjustable rate loan added 2.7% (13.2% y/y) to the prior week's 11.0% rise while fixed-rate mortgage applications rose 4.2% (14.9% y/y).

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages fell to 3.57% and equaled the record low reached in September. The effective rate on 30-year fixed rate loans fell to 4.25%. On a 30-year Jumbo the effective rate was 4.60%. Though it's 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 ticked down 3.13% from 3.18% averaged last month.

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.

Subprime Mortgages and the Housing Bubble from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia can be found here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 12/9/11 12/2/11 11/25/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total Market Index 677.0 650.4 576.4 14.8 659.3 736.4 642.9
 Purchase 190.9 208.0 192.1 -4.7 199.8 263.5 345.4
 Refinancing 3,573.7 3,268.7 2,834.5 22.8 3,348.1 3,509.2 2,394.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.57 3.65 3.69 4.46
4.39 4.85 5.88
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