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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Increase; Interest Rates Are Little Changed
by Tom Moeller  April 15, 2020

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Mortgage Loan Application Index rose 7.3% (67.9% y/y) in the week ended April 10 after the prior week's 17.9% decline. Applications for refinancing increased 10.1% w/w (192.0% y/y) after declining 19.4% in the previous week. Purchase applications dropped 1.8% w/w and by one-third y/y.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was fairly steady at 3.11%. The effective interest rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 3.53% from 3.57%. The effective rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage declined to 3.87% from 3.95%. The rate on the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage increased to 3.46% from 3.38%.

The average mortgage loan size fell sharply to $309,900 (-7.0% y/y) from $313,200 in the previous week. The average loan size of refinancings declined to $307,900 (-6.7% y/y) from $312,400. The average loan size for purchases rose slightly to $316,100 (-5.7% y/y) from $315,300, which was the lowest price level since the second week of February 2019.

Home buyers are looking to lock-in currently low levels of interest rates. Applications for fixed-rate loans increased 74.9% y/y, while applications for adjustable rate loans fell 30.4% 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) 04/10/20 04/03/20 03/27/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index 7.3 -17.9 15.3 67.9 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase -1.8 -12.2 -10.8 -34.0 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing 10.1 -19.4 25.5 192.0 71.1 -24.3 -34.0
15-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.11 3.10 3.12 3.95 3.71 4.35 3.59
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.53 3.57 3.57 4.56 4.34 4.94 4.32
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