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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Increase; Rates Unchanged
by Tom Moeller  December 11, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Index rebounded 3.8% (53.8% y/y) in the week ending December 6 after declining 9.2% in the previous week. Applications to refinance a loan led the increase with an 8.7% rise (145.9% y/y) after a 15.6% drop in the prior week. Purchase applications eased 0.4% w/w (+4.8% y/y) following a 0.9% rise.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady at 3.44%. This remained below its high of 4.71% reached early in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan edged up to 4.07% from 4.06%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage eased to 3.98%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage rebounded to 3.61% after declining to 3.38% in the previous week.

The average mortgage loan size fell to $314,100 (+7.5% y/y) from $316,500 the previous week. The average loan size for purchases fell sharply to $325,200, its lowest level in three months. For refinancings, the average loan size edged up to $307,500, its highest level since mid-October.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 58.1% y/y. Adjustable rate loan applications edged 1.6% y/y higher.

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) 12/06/19 11/29/19 11/22/19 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 3.8 -9.2 1.5 53.8 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -0.4 0.9 -1.2 4.8 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 8.7 -15.6 4.2 145.9 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.44 3.44 3.45 4.45 (Dec'18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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