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Economy in Brief

U.S. Home Mortgage Applications Slacken; Mortgage Rates Slip
by Tom Moeller  August 14, 2013

Higher interest rates continue to take their toll on the mortgage market. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the total mortgage market index fell 4.7% (-46.8% y/y) last week. Home purchase mortgage applications declined 5.4% (+3.9% y/y) and they've fallen 16.4% since the early-May peak. Applications to refinance an existing loan declined 4.4% (-57.7% y/y) and were down by nearly two-thirds from the September peak.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage slipped last week to 3.69%. That remained up, however, from the early-May low of 2.89%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan also fell to 4.67% last week while the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan edged lower to 4.64%. The 98 basis point spread between 15- and 30-year loan rates remained near the record. The effective interest rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage slipped marginally w/w to 3.49% but remained up from its low of 2.59% at the beginning of May.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans fell by 48.0% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications were off 17.0% y/y. The average mortgage loan size was $211,800. The average size loan for home purchases was $253,300 last week while for refinancings it was $187,700.

The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990.  Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.  Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100. The figures for weekly mortgage applications and interest rates are available in Haver's SURVEYW database. 

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 08/09/13 08/02/13 07/25/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total Market Index 471.9 495.4 494.4 -46.8 813.8 572.3 659.3
 Purchase 182.7 193.1 191.7 3.9 187.8 182.6 199.8
 Refinancing 2,145.3 2,244.7 2,247.6 -57.7 4,505.0 2,858.4 3,348.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.69 3.77 3.77 3.22
3.25 3.97 4.39
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