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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Fall As Interest Rates Rise
by Tom Moeller  May 23, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index was off 2.6% last week (-11.9% y/y), following a similar fall during the prior week. It was the fifth consecutive week of decline and left applications at the lowest level since December.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage increased to 4.45% and remained up sharply from September's low of 3.46%. It was the highest rate since April 2011. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan increased to 5.01%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 4.93%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate held steady w/w at 4.29%, up from the July 2016 low of 2.87%.

Purchase loan applications declined 2.0% (+2.4% y/y), after a 2.1% fall during the prior week. Applications to refinance were off 3.7% (-27.4% y/y), also about the same as the week prior.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $301,400 (2.7% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size increased to $390,200 (0.3% y/y); for refinancings, it held steady at $267,500 (2.7% y/y).

Applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 26.9% y/y, while applications for fixed-rate loans fell 10.6% 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) 05/18/18 05/11/18 05/04/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -2.6 -2.7 -0.4 -11.9 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -2.0 -2.1 -0.2 2.4 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -3.7 -3.8 -0.6 -27.4 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.45 4.34 4.32 3.56 (May'17) 3.59 3.22 3.3
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