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Economy in Brief

Mortgage Loan Applications Surge As Refinancing Strengthens
by Tom Moeller  September 23, 2020

• Applications bounce back after prior week's decline.

• Mortgage rates edge higher.

The Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Loan Applications Index increased 6.8% (57.8% y/y) in the week ended September 18 after declines in four of the prior five weeks.

Applications to refinance an existing loan rose 8.8% (85.7% y/y) following a 3.7% decline. Purchase applications improved 3.4% (25.1% y/y) after easing 0.5% in the previous week. The percentage of loans for refinancing an existing mortgage rose slightly to 64.3%.

The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate interest rate increased to 3.24% from 3.16%, its highest level since late-July. The rate on 15-year loans rose six basis points to 2.76%. The effective rate for a Jumbo mortgage loan eased by one basis point to 3.47%, a record low for this series which began in 2011. The rate on the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage edged higher to 3.42%, the highest rate since April 10.

The average mortgage loan size eased w/w to $324,000. The average size of a purchase loan increased slightly to $371,000, a record high for this survey. The average loan size to refinance fell to $297,900.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 6.8% (62.6% y/y) and applications for adjustable rate mortgages rose 4.5% (-31.2% 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) 09/18/20 09/11/20 09/04/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index 6.8 -2.5 2.9 57.8 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase 3.4 -0.5 2.6 25.1 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing 8.8 -3.7 3.0 85.7 71.1 -24.3 -34.0
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.24 3.16 3.17 4.08
(Sep '19)

4.34 4.94 4.32
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