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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Rise as Financing Rates Steady
by Tom Moeller  May 8, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index gained 2.7% (8.0% y/y) during the week ending May 3. It was the first increase in five weeks. Applications to purchase a home rose 4.2% (4.9% y/y), the first rise in three weeks. Loan refinancings improved 0.8% (12.8% y/y), up for the first week in five.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage held w/w at 3.91%, compared to a high of 4.71% in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan also was steady at 4.55% and compared to a November high of 5.33%. The rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage eased slightly to 4.34% and the rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage rate slipped to 3.97%.

The average mortgage loan size nudged higher w/w to $329,500 (10.3% y/y) but remained below the record of $381,700 in late-March. For purchases, the average loan size edged up to a near-record $335,600 (6.0% y/y). The average loan refinancing size rose to $319,600 (19.6% y/y). These series date back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 8.1% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications gained 6.1% 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) 5/3/2019 4/26/2019 4/19/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 2.7 -4.3 -7.3 8.0 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 4.2 -3.7 -4.1 4.9 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 0.8 -5.0 -11.0 12.8 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.91 3.91 3.98 4.37 (May '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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