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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications & Interest Rates Continue Upward
by Tom Moeller  January 24, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index rose 4.5% last week (6.8% y/y) following a 4.1% rise during the prior week. Purchase loan applications strengthened 6.1% (8.7% y/y) following a 2.7% gain. Applications to refinance increased 0.9% (4.8% y/y) following a 4.4% increase.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage increased slightly to 3.93%, remaining up sharply from 3.46% in September. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan increased to 4.52%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 4.42%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate increased to 3.84%, up from September's low of 3.25%.

The average mortgage loan size improved to $283,900, up 4.5% y/y. For purchases, the average loan size increased to $309,500 (-0.1% y/y); for refinancings, it declined to $257,700 (+9.9% y/y).

Applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 3.7% y/y, while applications for fixed-rate loans rose 7.5% 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) 01/19/18 01/12/18 01/05/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 4.5 4.1 8.3 6.8 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 6.1 2.7 5.0 8.7 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 0.9 4.4 11.4 4.8 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.93 3.88 3.76 3.65 (Jan'17) 3.59 3.22 3.37
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