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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Increase Further As Rates Dip
by Tom Moeller  January 16, 2013

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications rose 15.2% (2.5% y/y) last week but still were below the late-September peak. Applications to refinance an existing loan rose 15.3% (1.4% y/y) and added to a sharp rise the week earlier. Home purchase applications also were strong and rose 12.9% (7.3% y/y) but they remained roughly two-thirds below the late-2007 high.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans rose 4.9 y/y while adjustable rate loan applications fell 37.7% y/y. The average mortgage loan size was $209,800. The average for home purchases was $243,300 last week while for refinancings it was $202,300. The average size of a fixed rate loan was $197,500 last week and for variable rate loans it was $555,200. 

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages slipped to 2.95% and remained down compared to 3.47% in January. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate was 3.72% last week while the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was 3.99%. Though it's recently narrowed, 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 stable at 2.79%, 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) 01/11/13 01/04/13 12/28/12 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total Market Index 836.5 726.4 650.3 2.5 813.8 572.3 659.3
 Purchase 209.6 185.7 169.5 7.3 187.8 182.6 199.8
 Refinancing 4,563.7 3,956.6 3,528.3 1.4 4,505.0 2,858.4 3,348.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 2.95 2.98 2.92 3.47
3.25 3.97 4.39
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