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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Continue to Decline
by Tom Moeller  April 24, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index decreased 7.3% (+6.8% y/y) during the week ending April 19. It was the third consecutive weekly drop. Applications to purchase a home fell 4.1% (+2.6% y/y) after rising for six straight weeks, while refinance activity declined 11.0% (+12.9% y/y), down for the third straight week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage of 3.98% compared to a high of 4.71% in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan of 4.59% compared to a November high of 5.33%. The rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage edged up to 4.42% and the rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage rate increased to 4.02%.

The average mortgage loan size declined to $326,300 (+10.2% y/y), down from the record of $381,700 in late-March. For purchases, the average loan size edged up to a near-record $336,600 (6.2% y/y). The average loan refinancing size fell sharply to $310,500 (+18.9% y/y) after reaching record high levels in late-March and early-April. These series date back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 6.9% y/y while adjustable rate loan applications gained 5.4% 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) 4/19/2019 4/12/2019 4/05/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -7.3 -3.5 -5.6 6.8 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -4.1 0.9 0.5 2.6 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -11.0 -8.2 -11.4 12.9 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.98 3.95 3.94 4.25 (Apr '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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