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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Recover; Interest Rates Move Higher
by Tom Moeller  February 6, 2013

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications rose 3.4% (4.6% y/y) last week and recovered some of the prior week's decline.  Home purchase applications rose 2.2% (18.6% y/y) to the highest level since May 2010. Applications to refinance an existing loan increased 3.5% (1.5% y/y) and recovered a piece of the prior week's decline.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans rose by 7.4% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications fell by more than one-third y/y. The average mortgage loan size fell to a six-month low of $207,700. The average size for home purchases was $253,700 last week while for refinancings it was $195,000. The average size of a fixed rate loan was $193,800 last week and for variable rate loans it was $568,600. 

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages increased to 3.08% and was up from December's weekly low of 2.89%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate was 3.86% last week while the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was 4.07%. 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 increased to 2.83%, up from its November low of 2.72%.

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) 02/01/13 01/25/13 01/18/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total Market Index 849.8 822.1 894.8 4.9 813.8 572.3 659.3
 Purchase 215.8 211.1 214.9 18.6 187.8 182.6 199.8
 Refinancing 4,567.6 4,415.2 4,916.7 1.5 4,505.0 2,858.4 3,348.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.08 3.05 2.97 3.45
3.25 3.97 4.39
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