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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Improve as Interest Rates Stabilize
by Tom Moeller  October 24, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index rose 4.9% (-15.6% y/y) in the week ending October 19 following declines during the prior two weeks. Purchase loan applications improved 2.0% (0.2% y/y) after a 5.9% drop, while applications to refinance recovered 9.7% (-32.3% y/y) and reversed the prior week's decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady at 4.64%, up sharply from 3.01% averaged in July 2016. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan stabilized at 5.26%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was 5.09% and for adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate jumped to 4.61%.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $292,400 ( 2.0% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size increased to $308,800 (-2.6% y/y); for refinancings, it jumped to $267,700 (4.7% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 16.2% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 7.3% 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) 10/19/18 10/12/18 10/05/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 4.9 -7.1 -1.7 -15.6 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 2.0 -5.9 -1.1 0.2 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 9.7 -9.0 -2.6 -32.3 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.64 4.64 4.58 3.57 (Oct'17) 3.59 3.22 3.47
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