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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Continue to Decline; Interest Rates Fall
by Tom Moeller  February 6, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index fell 2.5% (-9.0% y/y) during the week ended February 1, about the same as during the prior two weeks. These declines followed sharp increases early in January. Applications to purchase a home were off 4.9%, the third straight weekly decline (-0.9% y/y). Applications to refinance a mortgage rose 0.3% (-18.9% y/y) after two weeks of sharp decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage eased w/w to 4.23%, down from a 4.71% high early in November. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan declined to 4.82%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan fell to 4.58%, and for adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate declined to 4.17%.

The average mortgage loan size was fairly steady at $314,500 (7.5% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size increased to $320,500 (0.5% y/y). For refinancings, the average loan size declined to $306,000 (+16.9% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans declined 10.6% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans increased 16.6% 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) 02/01/19 01/25/19 01/18/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -2.5 -3.0 -2.7 -9.0 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
 Purchase -4.9 -2.3 -2.2 -0.9 2.1 5.6 13.3
 Refinancing 0.3 -5.5 -5.3 -18.9 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.23 4.27 4.26 4.16 (Feb.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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