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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline As Interest Rates Rise
by Tom Moeller  April 10, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index fell 5.6% (+24.1% y/y) during the week ending April 5. Applications to purchase a home improved 0.5% (12.6% y/y), but refinancings declined 11.4% (+42.5% y/y).

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.94%, but remained below the high of 4.71% reached early in November. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan increased to 4.54%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose slightly to 4.36%, while adjustable 5-year mortgage rates eased to 3.88%.

The average mortgage loan size fell to $352,100 (+21.7% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size rose to a record $336,800 (8.8% y/y). The average refinance loan size backed away from the prior week's record to $371,600 (+44.6% y/y). Data for all these series go back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans jumped by roughly one-quarter y/y, while applications for adjustable-rate loans surged by more than one-half 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) 4/5/2019 3/29/2019 3/22/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -5.6 18.6 8.9 24.1 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 0.5 3.4 6.4 12.6 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -11.4 38.5 12.4 42.5 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.94 3.88 3.99 4.25 (Apr '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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