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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Pushed Higher by Refinancing Demand
by Carol Stone, CBE  July 15, 2020

• 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate eased to another record low.

• Home purchase apps fall back in the week.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index increased 5.1% (61.1% y/y) during the week ending July 10, following the previous week's 2.2% rise. The latest gain was all in applications to refinance, which bounced 11.9% after inching up just 0.4% in the July 3 week and falling in the two prior weeks. Applications to purchase a home actually backtracked 6.1%, more than reversing their 5.3% gain the week before.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage edged down somewhat more to 2.78% after its already-record low of 2.85% last week. Thirty-year fixed rates also decreased to a new record low of 3.29% from the prior week's 3.36%. Thirty-year jumbo rates eased to 3.61% from 3.62%. Five-year adjustable rates decreased to 3.00% from 3.01%, still the lowest level since September 2016.

The average mortgage loan size increased w/w to $330,600 (+2.2% y/y) from the previous week's $330,100, but remained down versus the early March high of $367,900 and an all-time high of $381,700 in March 2019. For purchases, the average loan size fell to $357,000 (+10.2% y/y) from the prior week's record $365,700; the average refinancing loan size increased to $315,900 (-2.1% y/y) from $306,500.

With interest rates low, applications for fixed-rate loans increased 66.3% y/y while adjustable-rate mortgage loans declined 0.3% 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 all indexes 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) 07/10/20 07/03/20 06/26/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index 5.1 2.2 -1.8 61.1 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase -6.1 5.3 -1.3 15.5 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing 11.9 0.4 -2.2 106.6 71.1 -24.3 -34.0
15-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 2.78 2.85 2.90

3.54
(Jul '19)

3.71 4.35 3.59
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