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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Hold Steady as Interest Rates Trend Higher
by Tom Moeller  November 8, 2017

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index remained unchanged (-18.9% y/y) last week, but was 15.7% below the September high. Purchase applications edged 0.5% higher (8.2% y/y) following declines in three of the prior four weeks. Applications to refinance eased 0.5% and remained down by roughly one-third y/y.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage of 3.62% was little changed w/w at the highest level since July. Rates were up from 3.40% in mid-September. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan eased w/w to 4.29%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan fell to 4.19%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate of 3.55% equaled the highest level since March, up from a 3.25% September low.

The average mortgage loan size eased to $287,400, up 4.1% y/y. For purchases, the average loan size fell to $315,900 (+3.3% y/y); for refinancings, it rose to $257,900 (-0.1% y/y).

Applications for adjustable rate loans rose 19.6% y/y, while applications for fixed rate loans fell 20.7% y/y.

The survey covers over 75% 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) 11/3/17 10/27/17 10/20/17 Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total Market Index -0.0 -2.6 -4.6 -18.9 15.6 17.9 -41.4
 Purchase 0.5 -0.8 -6.1 8.2 13.3 15.5 -12.9
 Refinancing -0.5 -4.5 -3.0 -36.5 17.3 19.7 -52.8
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.62 3.63 3.57 3.33 (Nov. '16) 3.22 3.37 3.54
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