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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Increase Along With Interest Rates
by Tom Moeller  September 26, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index rose 2.9% last week (-15.5% y/y) following a 1.6% rise.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage increased w/w to 4.51%, the highest level since February 2011, up from last September's low of 3.40%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan increased to 5.11%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 5.01%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate jumped to 4.44%, up from the May 2013 low of 2.59%.

Purchase loan applications increased 3.0% (4.0% y/y) to the highest level since mid-July. Applications to refinance also rose 3.0% w/w (-34.5% y/y) after a 3.7% rise.

The average mortgage loan size increased to $292,200 (0.1% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size rose to $311,700 (-1.1% y/y); for refinancings, it was fairly steady at $262,100 (-2.6% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 15.2% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 15.0% 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) 09/21/18 09/14/18 09/07/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 2.9 1.6 -1.8 -15.5 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 3.0 0.3 0.9 4.0 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 3.0 3.7 -5.9 -34.5 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.51 4.42 4.39 3.51 (Sep'17) 3.59 3.22 3.47
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