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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Surge
by Tom Moeller  August 14, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index strengthened 21.7% (81.2% y/y) during the week ending August 9 following a 5.3% increase in the prior week. Applications to refinance a loan strengthened 36.9% w/w and roughly tripled y/y. Purchase applications increased 1.9% (12.1% y/y) and made up the prior week's decline.

The effective interest rate, which includes points, on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined w/w to 3.37% from 3.47%. It was the lowest rate since November 2016 and compared to a high of 4.71% early in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan fell to 4.03%, remaining below the November high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage fell to 3.95%. It remained below the October peak of 5.09%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage rose slightly to 3.56%.

The average mortgage loan size increased w/w to $345,300 (21.2% y/y), remaining below the record of $381,700 in late-March. For purchases, the average loan size rose to $323,500 (7.0% y/y). The average loan size for refinancings strengthened to $359,000 (40.1% y/y). These series date back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans nearly doubled y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications rose 77s.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) 8/9/19 8/2/2019 7/26/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 21.7 5.3 -1.4 81.2 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 1.9 -2.0 -3.0 12.1 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 36.9 11.8 0.1 195.7 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.37 3.47 3.55 4.37 (Aug '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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