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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Mortgage Loan Application Strength Cools as Rates Surge
by Tom Moeller  September 18, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index eased 0.1% (+66.2% y/y) in the week ending September 13, following a 2.0% increase during the prior week. Applications to refinance a loan declined 4.3% (+148.0% y/y) after a 0.4% rise in the week prior. Purchase applications showed continued strength, rising 6.4% w/w (15.2% y/y). It was the third straight week of strong gain.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.51%, the highest level since late-July. Nevertheless, it remained well below the high of 4.71% reached in early November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan rose to 4.12% from 3.95%, but remained below the November 2018 high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage increased sharply to 4.09% from 3.94%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage was little changed at 3.65%.

The average mortgage loan size fell sharply to $327,400, the lowest level since early August.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 68.8% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications increased 28.7% 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) 9/13/2019 9/06/2019 8/30/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -0.1 2.0 -3.1 66.2 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 6.4 4.5 3.6 15.2 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -4.3 0.4 -7.0 148.0 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.51 3.40 3.37 4.46 (Sep '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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