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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Mortgage Loan Applications Rise As Rates Fall
by Sandy Batten  September 11, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index increased 2.0% w/w (+68.9% y/y) in the week ending September 6, following 3.1% w/w and 6.2% w/w declines in the previous two weeks. Applications to refinance a loan edged up 0.4% w/w (+168.9% y/y) after having fallen 7.0% and 7.6% in the previous two weeks. Purchase applications posted another increase, rising 4.5% w/w (+8.6% y/y) on top of a 3.6% rise in the previous week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.40% from 3.37% in the prior week, but remains within 3 basis points of the lowest rate since late 2016. It remained well below the recent high of 4.71% reached in early November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan slipped to 3.95% from 3.97%, its lowest since November 2016, and well below the November 2018 high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage declined to 3.94% from 4.01%, again the lowest since late 2016. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage jumped up to 3.60% from 3.50%.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $337,600 from $335,300 in the previous week. For purchases, the average loan size increased to $325,100 from $321,100. The average loan size for refinancings edged up to $345,900 from $344,600.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 70.4% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications slowed to 46.7% 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) 9/06/2019 8/30/2019 8/23/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 2.0 -3.1 -6.2 68.9 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 4.5 3.6 -4.0 8.6 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 0.4 -7.0 -7.6 168.9 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.40 3.37 3.40 4.46 (Sep '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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