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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Increase; Interest Rates Remain Elevated
by Tom Moeller  November 28, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index increased 5.5% (-14.4% y/y) last week following steady declines since early-last month. Purchase loan applications surged 8.8% (1.3% y/y) after a 3.1% rise, while applications to refinance improved 0.5% (-34.6% y/y) following a 5.0% fall.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was little changed w/w at 4.65%, but remained up sharply from 3.01% averaged in July 2016. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan also was steady at 5.26%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was unchanged at 4.97% and for adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate was little-changed at 4.44%.

The average mortgage loan size increased to $294,500 (2.7% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size of $313,100 (-1.7% y/y) compared to $264,200 (4.3% y/y) for refinancings.

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 16.0% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans increased 8.4% 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) 11/23/18 11/16/18 11/09/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 5.5 -0.1 -3.2 -14.4 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 8.8 3.1 -2.3 1.3 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 0.5 -5.0 -4.3 -34.6 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.65 4.66 4.71 3.65 (Nov'17) 3.59 3.22 3.47
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