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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications' Gain Led by Purchases
by Tom Moeller  August 26, 2015

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Market Volume Index improved 0.2% last week (17.4% y/y) to a three-month high following a 3.6% rise during the week earlier. Home purchase applications powered the rise with a 1.7% gain (18.3% y/y), though they remained near the lowest level since March. Applications to refinance a loan eased 1.0% (+16.7% y/y) though they remained at nearly the highest level since early-May.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage eased to 3.41%, the lowest point since late-May. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan also notched lower to 4.19% and the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan fell to 4.06%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate eased to 3.09%, its lowest level since early-May.

The average mortgage loan size held steady at $270,000 (8.9% y/y). For purchases, it eased to $285,000 (+5.2% y/y) but for refinancings it held at $257,900 (12.4% y/y), nearly the highest level in five months.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans increased 18.7% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications eased 0.1% 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) 08/21/15 08/14/15 08/07/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total Market Index 412.7 411.7 397.5 17.4 361.5 616.6 813.8
 Purchase 198.7 195.3 197.4 18.3 172.1 197.5 187.8
 Refinancing 1,629.3 1,646.0 1,534.8 16.7 1,449.8 3,070.0 4,505.0
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.41 3.46 3.48 3.56
3.54 3.42 3.25
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