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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Ease as Rates Stay Elevated
by Tom Moeller  May 27, 2015

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Market Volume Index declined 1.6% last week (+10.9% y/y), down for the fifth straight week. Refinance applications fell 3.9% (+8.4% y/y) to the lowest level since early January. Purchase applications gained 1.2% (13.8% y/y).

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage was fairly stable at 3.35%, up from last month's low of 3.17%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan nudged up to 4.17%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan gained to 4.14%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate increased to 3.21%, up from last month's low of 2.97%.

The average mortgage loan size dipped to $264,700 (+4.6% y/y). For purchases it was stable at $298,000 (6.5% y/y) but for refinancings it fell to $232,700.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans increased 12.8% y/y, but adjustable rate loan applications declined 15.5% 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.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 05/22/15 05/15/15 05/08/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total Market Index 399.9 406.5 412.5 10.9 361.5 616.6 813.8
 Purchase 201.5 199.1 206.7 13.8 172.1 197.5 187.8
 Refinancing 1,537.8 1,600.6 1,596.5 8.4 1,449.8 3,070.0 4,505.0
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.35 3.33 3.33 3.48
3.54 3.42 3.25
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