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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Surge
by Tom Moeller  November 13, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index strengthened 9.6% (79.5% y/y) in the week ending November 8 after easing 0.1% w/w in the previous week. Purchase applications increased 5.1% w/w (14.8% y/y) and reversed the prior week's decline. Applications to refinance rose 12.9% w/w (187.9% y/y) after improving 1.8% during the prior week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage of 3.50% compared to 3.45% in the previous week. These rates were below the 4.71% high early last November. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan rose to 4.12% from 4.09%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage held steady at 4.04%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage eased to 3.46%.

The average mortgage loan size held fairly steady at $315,900 (8.8% y/y), but has been trending lower since the peak of $381,700 late in March. The average loan size for purchases rose slightly to $334,800 (9.3% y/y) and has been rising since July. For refinancings, the average loan size eased w/w to $304,300 (+14.5%) after falling from its $438,900 peak late in March.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 85.0% y/y. 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 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) 11/08/19 11/01/19 10/25/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 9.6 -0.1 0.6 79.5 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 5.1 -2.5 2.3 14.8 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 12.9 1.8 -0.5 187.9 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.50 3.45 3.49 4.67 (Nov.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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