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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Fall
by Tom Moeller  August 17, 2016

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Market Volume Index declined 4.0% (+31.5% y/y) last week following a 7.1% rise. Purchase applications fell 3.9% (+9.6% y/y), and have been declining steadily since June. Refinancing applications declined 4.2%, but have risen by roughly one-half y/y. The Association reported that refinancings accounted for roughly two-thirds of applications.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage was little changed at 2.98%, and remained near the lowest level since May 2013. Rates were down from the 3.50% highs of November and December. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan also was fairly steady at 3.72%, down from 4.28% near year-end. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan eased to 3.68%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate was steady at 2.91%.

The average mortgage loan size was little changed at $278,300 (+3.0% y/y). For purchases, it eased to $293,800 (+2.7% y/y); for refinancings, it held steady at $269,100 (4.5% y/y).

Applications for fixed interest rate loans increased 34.7% y/y, while adjustable-rate loan applications declined 12.2% 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.

The minutes to the latest FOMC meeting are available here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (%, SA) 08/12/16 08/05/16 07/29/16 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total Market Index -4.0 7.1 -3.5 31.5 17.9 -41.4 -24.2
 Purchase -3.9 2.6 -2.4 9.6 15.5 -12.9 5.2
 Refinancing -4.2 9.6 -4.2 47.8 19.7 -52.8 -31.9
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 2.98 3.01 3.02 3.43 3.37 3.54 3.42
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