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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Decline in April
by Tom Moeller  May 2, 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its index of total mortgage applications nudged up 0.1% w/w to 698.2 (52.2% y/y). That left the average level in April down 0.9% from March and down 10.9% from the February high. Applications to refinance led the decline with a 0.7% w/w dip (+77.2% y/y) that followed a 5.6% drop during the prior week. It pulled the April average 1.2% below March and 15.8% below February. Home purchase applications offset the w/w decline with a 2.9% rise (4.4% y/y). During April they've risen 0.5% from March and 10.9% from the February average. Fixed interest rate loan applications were unchanged w/w and remained down sharply from the January peak while variable rate loan applications moved sideways.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages again was roughly unchanged at its low of 3.41% but was down from its 4.50% high in February of last year. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan also was roughly stable w/w at 4.18%. On a 30-year Jumbo loan the effective rate nudged up to 4.43%. 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 also ticked up to 3.00% and still was down from its 3.93% high during February of last year.

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) 04/27/12 04/20/12 04/13/12 Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total Market Index 698.2 697.7 725.4 52.2 572.3 659.3 736.4
 Purchase 190.7 185.4 180.5 4.4 182.6 199.8 263.5
 Refinancing 3,687.7 3,715.2 3,936.3 77.2 2,858.4 3,348.1 3,509.2
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.41 3.42 3.43 4.33
3.97 4.39 4.85
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