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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications & Interest Rates Decline
by Tom Moeller  July 24, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index fell 1.9% (+33.8% y/y) during the week ending July 19, the fourth consecutive weekly decline. The drop reflected a 1.6% shortfall (+6.2% y/y) in applications to purchase a home after easing 3.8% in the prior week. Refinance applications were off 2.1% (+81.0% y/y) after a 1.5% increase.

The effective interest rate, which includes points, on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell w/w to 3.53%. That compared to a high of 4.71% early in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan also declined w/w to 4.18%, remaining below the November high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage eased w/w to 4.11%. It remained below the October peak of 5.09%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage was little changed at 3.67%. It's recent high was 4.52% averaged last October.

The average mortgage loan size declined w/w to $315,600 (+9.6% y/y), remaining below the record of $381,700 in late-March. For purchases, the average loan size fell to $316,600 (+3.2% y/y). The average loan size for refinancings fell to $314,500 (+22.9% y/y). These series date back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose by more than one-third y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications were little changed 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) 7/19/2019 7/12/2019 7/5/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -1.9 -1.1 -2.4 33.8 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -1.6 -3.8 2.3 6.2 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -2.1 1.5 -6.5 81.0 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.53 3.56 3.50 4.35 (July '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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