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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Slip Despite Interest Rate Decline
by Tom Moeller  April 11, 2012

Despite lower interest rates, mortgage applications have yet to move higher. Last week the index of total mortgage applications fell 2.4% w/w to 678.8 (+52.9% y/y), down for the eighth week in the last nine. Fewer applications to refinance have led the decline. Last week they were off 3.1% but they were still up 80.2% versus last year. This seventh decline in the last eight weeks amounts to a reduction of nearly one-quarter from two months ago. Home purchase applications slipped 0.5% w/w (6.1% y/y). They've risen by one-quarter from the low two months ago. Fixed interest rate loans remained down sharply from the January peak but variable rate loan applications have moved sideways.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages fell w/w to 3.46% and reversed nearly all of the increase through the end of last month. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan also fell to 4.22%. On a 30-year Jumbo the effective rate was a lower 4.54%. 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 fell to 3.03%.

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) 04/06/12 03/30/12 03/23/12 Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total Market Index 678.8 695.7 663.7 52.9 572.3 659.3 736.4
 Purchase 203.3 204.4 190.6 6.1 182.6 199.8 263.5
 Refinancing 3,467.3 3,576.8 3,438.6 80.2 2,858.4 3,348.1 3,509.2
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.46 3.50 3.60 4.33
3.97 4.39 4.85
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