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Economy in Brief

Mortgage Applications Fell Along with Rates
by Sandy Batten  September 30, 2020

• Both purchase and refinancing applications fell.

• Mortgage interest rates generally fell with the 30-year Jumbo rate falling to a new record low.

The Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Loan Applications Index fell 4.8% w/w (+39.0% y/y) in the week ended September 25 after having increased 6.8% w/w in the previous week. This was the seventh weekly decline in the past 10 weeks. Applications to refinance an existing loan slumped 6.5% w/w (+52.0% y/y) following an 8.8% increase in the previous week. Purchase applications declined 1.9% w/w (+21.6% y/y) after rising 3.4% w/w the previous week. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 63.3% of total applications from 64.3% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained unchanged at 2.2% of total applications.

After jumping up eight basis points to 3.24% in the previous week, the effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate interest rate slid four basis points to 3.20% in the week ended September 25. The rate on 15-year loans edged up one basis point to 2.77%. The effective rate for a Jumbo mortgage loan eased two basis points to a new record low of 3.45%. The rate on the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage plunged 27 basis points to 3.15%.

The average mortgage loan size eased 0.9% w/w to $321,100. After rising to a record high in the previous week, the average size of a purchase loan slipped 0.1% w/w to $370,700. The average loan size to refinance fell 1.9% w/w to $292,300.

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 4.8% w/w (+43.7% y/y) and applications for adjustable rate mortgages declined 5.5% w/w (-43.9% 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) 09/25/20 09/18/20 09/11/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index -4.8 6.8 -2.5 39.0 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase -1.9 3.4 -0.5 21.6 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing -6.5 8.8 -3.7 52.0 71.1 -24.3 -34.0
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.20 3.24 3.16 4.08
(Sep '19)

4.34 4.94 4.32
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