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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Continue to Increase
by Tom Moeller  December 5, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index rose 2.0% (-16.6% y/y) during the week ended November 30 following a 5.5% rise during the prior week. Applications to refinance a mortgage strengthened 6.2% last week (-36.3% y/y) after a 0.5% rise while purchase loan applications edged 0.8% higher (-0.3% y/y) after an 8.8% jump.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady 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 eased slightly to 5.21%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was unchanged for a second week at 4.97% and for adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate also was little changed at 4.41%.

The average mortgage loan size declined to $284,200 (+1.1% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size dropped to $298,000 (-2.3% y/y) compared to a stable $263,800 (2.1% y/y) for refinancings.

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 18.1% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans increased 7.7% 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) 11/30/18 11/23/18 11/16/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 2.0 5.5 -0.1 -16.6 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 0.8 8.8 3.1 -0.3 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 6.2 0.5 -5.0 -36.3 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.65 4.65 4.66 3.65 (Nov'17) 3.59 3.22 3.47
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