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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications and Interest Rates Move Lower
by Tom Moeller  February 13, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index fell 3.7% (-10.9% y/y) during the week ended February 8, about the same as it did during the prior three weeks. These declines followed sharp increases early in January. Applications to purchase a home were off 6.1%, the largest of four straight weekly declines (-5.3% y/y). Applications to refinance a mortgage were little changed (-17.4% y/y) after a slight increase in the prior week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell w/w to 4.16%, down from a 4.71% high early in November. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan declined to 4.78%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was little changed at 4.56%, and for adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate eased to 4.12%.

The average mortgage loan size dipped to $312,300 (7.1% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size fell to $313,400 (-0.8% y/y). For refinancings, the average loan size increased to $310,800 (18.0% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans declined 9.8% y/y, while applications for adjustable-rate loans increased 8.5% 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) 02/08/19 02/01/19 01/25/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -3.7 -2.5 -3.0 -10.9 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
 Purchase -6.1 -4.9 -2.3 -5.3 2.1 5.6 13.3
 Refinancing -0.1 0.3 -5.5 -17.4 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.16 4.23 4.27 4.16 (Feb.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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