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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Continue to Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  January 16, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index increased 13.5% (1.4% y/y) during the week ended January 11 following a nearly one-quarter rise during the prior week. Applications to refinance a mortgage increased 18.7% but remained down 10.8% y/y. Applications to purchase a home jumped 9.1% (11.8% y/y) after three straight weeks of decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady w/w at 4.25%, down from a 4.71% high early in November. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan held at 4.87%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was little-changed at 4.62%, and for adjustable 5-year mortgages the effective interest rate rose to 4.20%.

The average mortgage loan size surged to a record $328,100 (17.0% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size increased to $306,200 (1.7% y/y). For refinancings, the average loan size rose to another record of $353,100 (35.1% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 2.9% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans surged by more than three-quarters 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) 01/11/19 01/04/1 9 12/28/18 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 13.5 23.5 -8.5 1.4 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
 Purchase 9.1 16.5 -7.6 11.8 2.1 5.6 13.3
 Refinancing 18.7 35.3 -10.6 -10.8 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.25 4.25 4.40 3.89 (Jan.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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