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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Fall With Fewer Refinancings
by Tom Moeller  November 28, 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications slipped 0.9% last week (+45.5% y/y). The decline was led by a 1.5% drop (+61.4% y/y) in applications to refinance an existing loan. Home purchase applications increased 2.6% last week (7.4% y/y). Applications for fixed interest rate loans rose 48.9% y/y as lower mortgage rates were locked in. Adjustable rate loan applications fell 8.9% y/y.

The average mortgage loan size was $223,700 (2.3% y/y). The average for home purchases was $253,800 (16.5% y/y) while for refinancings it was down 1.1% y/y to $216,600. The average size of a fixed rate loan was $209,700 and for variable rate loans it was $597,500. 

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages ticked up last week to 3.05% but remained down compared to 3.47% in January. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate rose to 3.75% and the effective rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan advanced to 3.97%. 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 rose to  2.84% but 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. 


MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 11/23/12 11/16/12 11/09/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total Market Index 838.9 846.1 864.9 45.5 572.3 659.3 736.4
 Purchase 206.3 201.0 195.8 7.4 182.6 199.8 263.5
 Refinancing 4,575.5 4,645.8 4,801.3 61.4 2,858.4 3,348.1 3,509.2
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 2.98 2.95 2.98 3.68
3.97 4.39 4.85
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