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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications & Interest Rates Fall
by Tom Moeller  May 29, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index declined 3.3% (+15.6% y/y) during the week ending May 24 and reversed the prior week's increase. The decline reflected a 6.0% drop (+29.3% y/y) in applications to refinance an existing loan, which followed an 8.3% rise during the prior week. Applications to purchase a home eased 1.4% (+6.9% y/y) last week after declining a 2.0%.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell w/w to 3.83%, compared to a high of 4.71% early in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan was little changed at 4.45% and remained below the November high of 5.33%. The rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage declined to 4.24%, down from its October peak of 5.09%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage increased w/w to 3.87%, remaining below the mid-October high of 4.61%.

The average mortgage loan size eased w/w to $332,500 (+10.8% y/y) and remained below the record of $381,700 in late-March. For purchases, the average loan size eased to $331,200 (+4.3% y/y). The average loan refinancing size declined to $334,500 (+24.7% y/y). These series date back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 15.7% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications gained 13.7% 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) 5/24/2019 5/17/2019 5/10/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -3.3 2.4 -0.6 15.6 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -1.4 -2.0 -0.6 6.9 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -6.0 8.3 -0.5 29.3 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.83 3.88 3.89 4.37 (May '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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