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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Mortgage Loan Applications Fall Again as Rates Tick Up
by Sandy Batten  August 28, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index fell 6.2% w/w (+67.5% y/y) during the week ending August 23, as mortgage interest rates ticked up, following a 0.9% w/w decline in the previous week. Applications to refinance a loan slumped 7.6% w/w (+167.1% y/y), their first weekly decline in five weeks, after a 0.4% w/w rise in the previous week. With mortgage interest rates generally falling over the course of 2019, mortgage refinancing has been on a tear. Purchase applications declined 4.0% w/w (+1.7% y/y), their sixth weekly decline in the past seven weeks.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 3.40% from 3.39% in the prior week. It remained just above the lowest rate since November 2016 and well below the recent high of 4.71% reached in early November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan rose to 4.05% from 4.00%, but remained well below the November high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage increased slightly to 3.97% from 3.95%. It remained below the October peak of 5.09%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage rose to 3.57% from 3.50%.

The average mortgage loan size slipped to $339,500 from $344,700 in the previous week. For purchases, the average loan size edged up to $326,600 from $323,500. The average loan size for refinancings fell for the second consecutive week to $347,300 from $357,400.

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 5.9% w/w (+67.9% y/y), while adjustable rate loan applications slumped 11.0% w/w (61.8% 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) 8/23/2019 8/16/2019 8/9/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -6.2 -0.9 21.7 67.5 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -4.0 -3.5 1.9 1.7 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -7.6 0.4 36.9 167.1 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.40 3.39 3.37 4.37 (Aug '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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