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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Recover
by Tom Moeller  August 22, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index increased 4.2% last week (-16.1% y/y) following five consecutive weeks of decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage was little-changed w/w at 4.37% but remained up sharply from last September's low of 3.40%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan also was steady w/w at 4.93%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan eased to 4.76%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate slipped to 4.19%.

Purchase loan applications increased 2.9% (0.7% y/y) after five consecutive weeks of decline. Applications to refinance increased 6.0% w/w (-32.7% y/y), but their downward trend remained in place.

The average mortgage loan size remained lower at $286,000 (+1.7% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size also was lower at $302,600 (-0.3% y/y); for refinancings, it rose to $259,600 (0.6% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 16.1% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 15.5% 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) 08/17/18 08/10/18 08/03/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 4.2 -2.0 -3.0 -16.1 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 2.9 -3.3 -2.0 0.7 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 6.0 -0.0 -4.5 -32.7 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.37 4.40 4.38 3.49 (Aug'17) 3.59 3.22
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