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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Rise as Refinancings Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  August 19, 2015

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Market Volume Index increased 3.6% last week (20.4% y/y) to the highest level in three months. Applications to refinance increased 7.2% (21.2% y/y) as interest rates remained low but purchase applications declined 1.1% (+19.4% y/y), down for the second straight week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage held steady at 3.46%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan also held at 4.21% though the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan eased to 4.12%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate declined to 3.12%.

The average mortgage loan size increased to $270,200 (10.6% y/y). For purchases, it eased to $286,100 (+6.3% y/y) but for refinancings it jumped to $257,600 (15.1% y/y).

Applications for fixed interest rate loans increased 21.4% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications improved 6.3% 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) 08/14/15 08/07/15 07/31/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total Market Index 411.7 397.5 397.2 20.4 361.5 616.6 813.8
 Purchase 195.3 197.4 204.6 19.4 172.1 197.5 187.8
 Refinancing 1,646.0 1,534.8 1,488.8 21.2 1,449.8 3,070.0 4,505.0
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.46 3.48 3.46 3.56
(8/14)
3.54 3.42 3.25
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