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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Fall As Interest Rates Tick Up
by Tom Moeller  August 22, 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications fell 7.4% last week (+17.5% y/y), the third straight week of sharp decline. Applications have fallen 13.2% from last month's high. Applications to refinance fell 9.2% w/w and dropped 15.5% during the last three weeks. Conversely, home purchase applications nudged 0.9% higher last week but still have fallen 6.9% since May. Applications for fixed interest rate loans fell 7.6% w/w for the third straight week of sharp decline. Variable rate loan applications have fallen nearly one-third since their recent high.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages nudged up w/w to 3.26%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan increased to 3.99%. On a 30-year Jumbo loan, the effective rate rose to 4.23%, its highest since late-June. 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 was roughly steady at 2.88% but 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) 08/17/12 08/10/12 08/03/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total Market Index 821.3 886.8 928.8 17.5 572.3 659.3 736.4
 Purchase 177.4 175.9 179.5 12.3 182.6 199.8 263.5
 Refinancing 4,609.9 5,077.3 5,349.6 19.7 2,858.4 3,348.1 3,509.2
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.26 3.22 3.19 3.76
3.97 4.39 4.85
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