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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Pull Back As Rates Stay Up
by Tom Moeller  March 20, 2013

The Mortgage Bankers Association index of total mortgage applications declined 7.1% (12.2% y/y) last week following a 4.7% decline during the prior period. Home purchase applications posted a 3.9% decline (+6.4% y/y). Applications to refinance an existing loan also were off 8.0% (+14.0% y/y).

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages held at an elevated 3.11%, up from December's weekly low of 2.89%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan was 3.93% last week while the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was 4.05%. 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 2.74%.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans rose 13.2% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications fell 5.5% y/y. The average mortgage loan size was $213,400. The average size loan for home purchases was $259,300 last week while for refinancings it was $197,900. The average size of a fixed rate loan was $196,500 last week and for variable rate loans it was $556,200. 

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) 03/15/13 03/08/13 03/01/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total Market Index 765.1 823.7 864.1 12.2 813.8 572.3 659.3
 Purchase 196.4 204.3 209.6 6.4 187.8 182.6 199.8
 Refinancing 4,108.8 4,466.8 4,712.4 14.0 4,505.0 2,858.4 3,348.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.11 3.12 3.05 3.51
3.25 3.97 4.39
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