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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Slump
by Sandy Batten  December 4, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index slumped 9.2% w/w (+50.5% y/y) in the week ending November 29 after edging up 1.5% w/w in the previous week. Applications to refinance a loan led the overall decline as they plunged 15.6% w/w (+130.2% y/y), more than reversing the prior week's 4.2% w/w increase. Purchase applications edged up 0.9% w/w (+7.8% y/y) following a 1.2% w/w decline in the previous week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage edged down to 3.44% from 3.45% the previous week. This rate has been fluctuated within a 15 bp range over the second half of this year after having fallen from its recent high of 4.71% reached in early November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan edged up to 4.06% from 4.05%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage rose to 3.99% from 3.96%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage dropped to 3.38%, its second lowest since September 2017, from 3.50% the previous week.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $316,500 (+11.4% y/y) from $313,300 the previous week. The average loan size for purchases increased to $334,300 from $331,500 but has flattened over the past couple of months. For refinancings, the average loan size edged up to $304,200 from $302,200 the previous week.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 54.7% y/y. Adjustable rate loan applications fell 2.5% y/y, the first annual decline since July.

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) 11/29/19 11/22/19 11/15/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index -9.2 1.5 -2.2 50.5 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase 0.9 -1.2 6.7 7.8 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing -15.6 4.2 -7.7 130.2 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.44 3.45 3.48 4.67 (Nov.'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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