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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Decline
by Tom Moeller  November 20, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index fell 2.2% (+75.7% y/y) in the week ending November 15 after strengthening 9.6% in the previous week. Applications to refinance a loan declined 7.7% (+179.5% y/y) and reversed most of the prior week's increase. Purchase applications remained firm and posted a 6.7% rise (18.8% y/y) following a 5.1% gain.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage of 3.48% was little changed from 3.50% in the week prior. These rates were below the 4.71% high early last November. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan eased to 4.09% from 4.12%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage slipped to 4.01%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage increased to 3.59%, its highest level since early September.

The average mortgage loan size declined to $309,800 (+7.0% y/y), continuing to fall from the peak of $381,700 late in March. The average loan size for purchases declined to $330,500 (+7.4% y/y), but has been rising since July. For refinancings, the average loan size slipped w/w to $295,600 (+13.5%) after falling from its $438,900 peak late in March.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 80.7% y/y. Adjustable rate loan applications increased 11.5% 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) 11/15/19 11/08/19 11/01/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -2.2 9.6 -0.1 75.7 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 6.7 5.1 -2.5 18.8 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -7.7 12.9 1.8 179.5 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.48 3.50 3.45 4.67 (Nov.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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