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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Jump As Interest Rates Dip
by Tom Moeller  March 06, 2013

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications rebounded 14.8% (14.5% y/y) last week to the highest level since the third week of January. Home purchase applications were strong and posted a 15.0% advance (17.3% y/y). Applications to refinance an existing loan also were strong and gained 14.8% (13.8% y/y).

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages fell back to 3.05% but remained up from December's weekly low of 2.89%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate fell to 3.81% last week while the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was 3.91%. 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 slipped to 2.69%.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans rose 16.0% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications fell by 10.2% y/y. The average mortgage loan size rose to $213,500. The average size for home purchases was $257,100 last week while for refinancings it was $200,100. The average size of a fixed rate loan was $198,700 last week and for variable rate loans it was $549,600. 

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) 03/01/13 02/22/13 02/15/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total Market Index 864.1 753.0 782.4 14.5 813.8 572.3 659.3
 Purchase 209.6 182.2 192.1 17.3 187.8 182.6 199.8
 Refinancing 4,712.4 4,105.8 4,244.6 13.8 4,505.0 2,858.4 3,348.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.05 3.11 3.13 3.51
3.25 3.97 4.39
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