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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Rise Steadily As Interest Rates Decline
by Tom Moeller  October 9, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index increased 5.2% (68.0% y/y) in the week ending October 4, following an 8.1% rise during the prior week. Applications to refinance a loan gained 9.8% (+162.5% y/y) and added to the prior week's strong increase. Purchase applications eased 0.9% (+9.8% y/y), reversing the prior week's increase.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.42% from 3.52%. It was down more than one percentage point y/y. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan fell to 4.01%, and was below the November 2018 high of 5.33%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage declined to 3.98% from 5.07% averaged last October. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage dropped sharply to 3.37% compared to 4.52% averaged one year earlier.

The average mortgage loan size rose slightly to $328,600 (+11.8% y/y), but fell from $358,100 early in June. The average loan size for purchases increased to $330,600 (5.8% y/y). For refinancings, the average loan size rose to $327,300 (23.4% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 71.6% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications increased 22.2% 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) 10/04/19 09/27/19 09/20/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 5.2 8.1 -10.1 68.0 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -0.9 0.9 -3.1 9.8 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 9.8 14.2 -15.2 162.5 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.42 3.52 3.55 4.63 (Oct.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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