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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Rebound Even As Rates Edge Higher
by Sandy Batten  October 30, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index rebounded in the week ending October 25, rising 0.6% w/w (57.6% y/y) after declining 11.9% w/w in the previous week. Purchase applications rose 2.3% w/w (+9.9% y/y) after having fallen in four of the five previous weeks. Applications to refinance edged down 0.5% w/w (+133.7% y/y) on top of a 17.1% w/w plunge in the previous week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose further to 3.49% from 3.48% the previous week. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan increased to 4.15% from 4.13%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage jumped up to 4.10% from 4.04%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage increased 10 basis points to 3.52%, the highest in four weeks. Interest rates remain well below their recent highs reached in November 2018 but are gradually moving off their August lows.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $316,500 (+8.6% y/y) from $312,700 the previous week but has generally trended downward since early August. The average loan size for purchases increased to $331,100 (+7.1% y/y) from $329,700. For refinancings, the average loan size rose to $306,100 (+15.9%) after having fallen sharply to $300,700 in the previous week (its lowest this year).

Applications for fixed-rate loans were up 61.6% y/y. Adjustable rate loan applications increased a significantly smaller 8.5% 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 each index 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) 10/25/19 10/18/19 10/11/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 0.6 -11.9 0.5 57.6 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 2.3 -3.6 -4.1 9.9 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -0.5 -17.1 3.6 133.7 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.49 3.48 3.40 4.63 (Oct.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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