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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline Again; Rates Remain Low
by Tom Moeller  May 5, 2016

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Market Volume Index declined 3.4% last week (+14.3% y/y) following a 4.1% decline. For all of April, applications rose 5.6% versus March following that month's 7.9% shortfall. Applications to refinance fell 5.5% (+15.1% y/y), about as they did during the prior week. In April, refinance applications increased 7.3% from March, following a 14.7% shortfall. Purchase applications were little-changed w/w (+13.3% y/y). In April, these applications rose the same 4.0% m/m as in March.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage rose slightly to 3.22%, but remained down from the 3.50% highs of November and December. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan of 3.97% also was lower versus 4.28% near year-end. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan similarly remained down at 3.88%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate was 3.03%.

The average mortgage loan size declined w/w to $276,400 (+2.7% y/y). For purchases, it eased to $303,600 (2.1% y/y); for refinancings, it declined to $252,100 (+3.5% y/y).

Applications for fixed interest rate loans increased 15.4% y/y, while adjustable-rate loan applications declined 1.9% 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) 04/29/16 04/22/16 04/15/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total Market Index -3.4 -4.1 1.3 14.3 17.9 -41.4 -24.2
 Purchase -0.1 -2.4 -0.5 13.3 15.5 -12.9 5.2
 Refinancing -5.5 -5.0 2.6 15.1 15.1 -52.8 -31.9
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.22 3.18 3.14 3.21 3.37 3.54 3.42
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