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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Rise
by Gerald D. Cohen  March 13, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index rose 2.3% (-0.9% year-on-year) during the week ending March 8. After double-digit gains in early January and then four consecutive monthly declines, applications have stabilized. Applications to purchase a home increased 4.3% (1.7% y/y), while refinance activity edged down 0.2% (-4.4% y/y).

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 4.13%. Rates hit a seven-and-a-half year high of 4.71% in early in November and have been on a declining trend since. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan edged lower to 4.77%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 4.55%, while adjustable 5-year mortgage rates moved down to 4.19%.

The average mortgage loan size ticked up to $317,600 (8.5% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size increased to $326,000 (3.4% y/y). The average refinance loan size declined to $304,400 (+17.7% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans decreased 1.0% y/y, while applications for adjustable-rate loans increased 1.1% 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) 3/8/2019 3/1/2019 2/22/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 2.3 -2.5 5.3 -0.9 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
 Purchase 4.3 -2.6 6.1 1.7 2.1 5.6 13.3
 Refinancing -0.2 -2.0 4.6 -4.4 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.13 4.20 4.10 4.22 (Mar '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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