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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Weaken as Interest Rates Remain Elevated
by Tom Moeller  September 25, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index declined 10.1% (+45.3% y/y) in the week ending September 20, following a 0.1% dip during the prior week. Applications to refinance a loan declined 15.2% (+103.6% y/y) after a 4.3% fall in the prior week. Purchase applications fell 3.1% (+8.7% y/y) following three straight weeks of strong increase.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.55% from 3.51% and remained at 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 was little-changed at 4.13%, but remained below the November 2018 high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage also was stable at 4.08%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage declined to 3.49%, its lowest point since early last month.

The average mortgage loan size fell to $321,500 (+10.0% y/y), the lowest level since late-July. The average loan size for purchases rose to $329,400 (5.7% y/y). For refinancings, the average loan size fell sharply to $314,900 from the high of $359,000 early last month.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 47.5% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications increased 13.8% 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) 9/20/2019 9/13/2019 9/06/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -10.1 -0.1 2.0 45.3 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -3.1 6.4 4.5 8.7 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -15.2 -4.3 0.4 103.6 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.55 3.51 3.40 4.46 (Sep '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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