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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Decline Led by Fewer Refinancings
by Tom Moeller  April 3, 2013

The index of total mortgage applications from the Mortgage Banker Association declined 4.0% (+13.7% y/y) last week and reversed much of the prior week's rise. The latest decline was led by a 5.6% decline (+17.1% y/y) in applications to refinance an existing loan. Home purchase mortgage applications gained 1.4% (8.9% y/y) after the 6.7% rise in the prior week. 

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages slipped w/w to 3.08% but remained up from December's weekly low of 2.89%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan was stable at 3.89% last week while the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan fell to 3.95%. 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 2.72%.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans rose by 14.6% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications fell 3.4% y/y. The average mortgage loan size was $216,100. The average size loan for home purchases was $259,300 last week while for refinancings it was $200,600.

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) 03/29/13 03/22/13 03/15/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total Market Index 790.7 823.7 765.1 13.7 813.8 572.3 659.3
 Purchase 212.4 209.5 196.4 3.9 187.8 182.6 199.8
 Refinancing 4,189.0 4,436.6 4,108.8 17.1 4,505.0 2,858.4 3,348.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.08 3.13 3.11 3.51
3.25 3.97 4.39
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