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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Slip
by Tom Moeller  May 30, 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications fell 1.3% (+53.0% y/y) last week. Applications to refinance were off 1.5% (+79.9% y/y) while home purchase applications slipped 0.6% (-3.0% y/y), down for the third straight week. Applications for both fixed and variable interest rate loans fell modestly.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages slipped to a new low of 3.33% and was down from the 4.50% high in February of last year. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan fell w/w to 4.04%. On a 30-year Jumbo loan the effective rate was 4.35%. 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 slipped to a new low of 2.91% and remained 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.

Fed Asset Buying and Private Borrowing Rates from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 05/25/12 05/18/12 05/11/12 Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total Market Index 794.7 804.9 775.6 53.0 572.3 659.3 736.4
 Purchase 185.6 186.7 192.4 -3.0 182.6 199.8 263.5
 Refinancing 4,388.8 4,456.4 4,219.1 79.7 2,858.4 3,348.1 3,509.2
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.33 3.36 3.36 4.06
3.97 4.39 4.85
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