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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Decline Again As Interest Rates Remain Higher
by Tom Moeller  February 27, 2013

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications fell 3.8% (-1.4% y/y) last week to the lowest level since late December. Home purchase applications fell 5.2% (+4.1% y/y) while applications to refinance an existing loan were off 3.3% (-2.8% y/y).

Applications for fixed interest rate loans slipped 0.4% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications fell by 20.2% y/y. The average mortgage loan size recovered to $209,800. The average size for home purchases was $254,800 last week while for refinancings it was $193,000. The average size of a fixed rate loan was $193,500 last week and for variable rate loans it was $531,700. 

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages slipped to 3.11% but remained up from December's weekly low of 2.89%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate ticked up to 3.91% last week while the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was 4.03%. 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 steady at 2.78%.

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) 02/22/13 02/15/13 02/08/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total Market Index 753.0 782.4 795.8 -1.4 813.8 572.3 659.3
 Purchase 182.2 192.1 195.4 4.1 187.8 182.6 199.8
 Refinancing 4,105.8 4,244.6 4,315.8 -2.8 4,505.0 2,858.4 3,348.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.11 3.13 3.08 3.45
3.25 3.97 4.39
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