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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Remain High
by Tom Moeller  October 10, 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications slipped 1.2% last week (+35.5% y/y) led by a 2.0% decline (+41.8% y/y) in applications to refinance an existing loan. Home purchase applications gained 2.4% last week (13.3% y/y) with the recent recovery in home sales. Applications for fixed interest rate loans rose 38.6% y/y as lower mortgage rates were locked in. Conversely, adjustable rate loan applications fell 13.1% y/y.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages held steady last week at 2.98% but remained down compared to 3.47% in January. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate ticked up to 3.67% but the effective rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan declined to 3.85%. 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 stable at 2.73% and 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) 10/05/12 09/28/12 09/21/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total Market Index 1,008.1 1,020.4 875.1 35.5 572.3 659.3 736.4
 Purchase 198.9 194.2 187.0 12.3 182.6 199.8 263.5
 Refinancing 5,772.6 5,888.0 4,921.4 41.8 2,858.4 3,348.1 3,509.2
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 2.98 2.97 3.08 3.71
3.97 4.39 4.85
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