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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline; Interest Rates Steady
by Tom Moeller  October 31, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index retreated 2.5% (-15.5% y/y) last week following a 4.9% increase in the prior week. Purchase loan applications fell 1.5% (-0.5% y/y) after a 2.0% rise, while applications to refinance declined 3.8% (-31.8% y/y) following a 9.7% jump.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was barely changed w/w at 4.67%, but still was up sharply from 3.01% averaged in July 2016. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan also was steady at 5.25%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was 5.02% and for adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate fell to 4.49%.

The average mortgage loan size held at $291,400 (1.0% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size of $309,200 (-3.4% y/y) compared to $264,900 (3.4% y/y) for refinancings.

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 16.2% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 5.0% 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) 10/26/18 10/19/18 10/12/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -2.5 4.9 -7.1 -15.5 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -1.5 2.0 -5.9 -0.5 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -3.8 9.7 -9.0 -31.8 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.67 4.64 4.64 3.57 (Oct'17) 3.59 3.22 3.47
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