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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline
by Tom Moeller  August 29, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index fell 1.7% last week (-15.5% y/y) following a 4.2% increase. It was the sixth decline in the last seven weeks.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was little-changed w/w at 4.36%, but remained up sharply from last September's low of 3.40%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan also was fairly steady w/w at 4.92%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was unchanged at 4.76%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate declined sharply to 4.07%, its lowest level since the first week in March.

Purchase loan applications eased 0.9% (+2.7% y/y), also the sixth decline in the last seven weeks. Applications to refinance fell 3.0% w/w (-33.4% y/y) after a 6.0% rise.

The average mortgage loan size declined to $283,700 (-0.7% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size dropped to $300,700 (-1.3% y/y); for refinancings, it fell to $257,000 (-3.5% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 15.0% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 22.0% 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) 08/24/18 08/17/18 08/10/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -1.7 4.2 -2.0 -15.5 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -0.9 2.9 -3.3 2.7 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -3.0 6.0 -0.0 -33.4 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.36 4.37 4.40 3.49 (Aug'17) 3.59 3.22 3.47
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