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Economy in Brief

Mortgage Loan Applications Fall for Refinancing; Token Rise in Purchase Applications
by Carol Stone, CBE  August 26, 2020

• Mortgage demand declines for refinancing.

• Applications for fixed-rate loans rose greatly from a year ago while demand for adjustable rates fell.

The Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Applications Index decreased 6.5% in the week ended August 21 (+33.7% y/y). The decline was all in applications to refinance, which fell 10.2% (+34.5% y/y), while applications for purchase loans edged upward 0.4% (+32.5% y/y).

The average mortgage loan size rose $1,100 or 0.3% to $327,900 (-3.4% y/y). The average size of loans to purchase houses fell 0.3% to $366.800 (+12.3% y/y) while those to refinance edged upward just 0.1% to $304,600 (-12.3% y/y).

Interest rates ticked downward slightly, with the 30-year fixed rate at 3.22% in the August 21 week versus 3.23% the week before. The rate on 15-year loans was 2.80%, down from 2.82% the previous week. The 30-year jumbo rate was unchanged at 3.52%. In noticeable contrast, the 5-year adjustable rate advanced 18 basis points from 3.11% to 3.29%, the highest since the May 1 week.

Applications for fixed-rate loans were up 38.7% y/y, while applications for adjustable rate mortgages dropped 42.5% 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 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) 08/21/20 08/14/20 08/07/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index -6.5 -3.3 6.8 33.7 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase 0.4 0.8 2.0 32.5 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing -10.2 -5.3 9.1 34.5 71.1 -24.3 -34.0
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.22 3.23 3.16

4.03
(Aug '19)

4.34 4.94 4.32
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