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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Increase as Interest Rates Decline
by Tom Moeller  August 7, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index rose 5.3% (46.5% y/y) during the week ending August 2 following five consecutive weeks of decline. Applications to refinance a loan firmed 11.8% and more-than doubled y/y, up 115.9%. Purchase applications were off 2.0% (+6.5% y/y), the fourth consecutive weekly decline.

The effective interest rate, which includes points, on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell w/w to 3.47% from 3.55%. That compared to a high of 4.71% early in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan eased w/w to 4.11%, remaining below the November high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage fell to 4.04%. It remained below the October peak of 5.09%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage dropped to 3.49%. It's recent high was 4.52% averaged last October.

The average mortgage loan size increased w/w to $321,600 (11.2% y/y), remaining below the record of $381,700 in late-March. For purchases, the average loan size fell to $318,300 (+3.3% y/y). The average loan size for refinancings increased to $324,500 (+22.9% y/y). These series date back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose by more than one-half y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications rose 10.5% 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) 8/2/2019 7/26/2019 7/19/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 5.3 -1.4 -1.9 46.5 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -2.0 -3.0 -1.6 6.5 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 11.8 0.1 -2.1 115.9 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.47 3.55 3.50 4.37 (Aug '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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