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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Recover as Interest Rates Decline
by Tom Moeller  March 25, 2015

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that their total Mortgage Market Volume Index increased 9.5% last week (21.0% y/y) to the highest level since early-February. Refinance applications led the way up with a 12.3% w/w increase (34.9% y/y). Home purchase applications improved 4.9% w/w (2.7% y/y).

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage declined to 3.29%, the lowest level in six weeks. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan declined to 4.01%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan fell w/w to 3.96%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate was fairly steady w/w at 3.11% and compared to 3.02% nine weeks ago.

The average mortgage loan size jumped to $276,000 (14.8% y/y), the highest level in nine weeks. For refinancings it increased to $264,600 (27.8% y/y) but for purchases it fell to 293,400 (5.0% y/y).

Applications for fixed interest rate loans increased 24.4% y/y but adjustable rate loan applications declined 16.2% y/y.

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. The 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.

Risk Management in an Uncertain World from Charles Evans, President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 03/20/15 03/13/15 03/06/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total Market Index 437.1 399.3 415.4 21.0 361.5 616.6 813.8
 Purchase 178.7 170.4 173.0 2.7 172.1 197.5 187.8
 Refinancing 1,932.5 1,720.3 1,815.3 34.9 1,449.8 3,070.0 4,505.0
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.29 3.36 3.36 3.64
3.54 3.42 3.25
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