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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Rebound As Interest Rates Remain Low
by Tom Moeller  October 2, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index increased 8.1% (57.1% y/y) in the week ending September 27, following a 10.1% decline during the prior week. Applications to refinance a loan rebounded 14.2% (+132.9% y/y) and recovered after the prior week's decline. Purchase applications improved 0.9% (9.6% y/y) following a 3.1% fall.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 3.52% from 3.55%, but was increased from 3.40% averaged in August. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan was little changed at 4.10%, but remained below the November 2018 high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage also was fairly stable at 4.06%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage improved to 3.56%.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $326,700 (+12.7% y/y), but fell from $358,100 early in June. The average loan size for purchases increased to $329,800 (6.4% y/y). For refinancings, the average loan size rose to $324,500 from the prior week's low of $314,900.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 59.8% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications increased 20.9% 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) 09/27/19 09/20/19 09/13/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 8.1 -10.1 -0.1 57.1 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 0.9 -3.1 6.4 9.6 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 14.2 -15.2 -4.3 132.9 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.52 3.55 3.51 4.46 (Sep '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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