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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications and Interest Rates Ease
by Tom Moeller  October 14, 2020

• Both purchase and refinance applications slip.

• Mortgage interest rates fall to record low.

The Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Loan Applications Index fell 0.7% (+36.6% y/y) in the week ended October 9 after rising 4.6% in the previous week.

Purchase applications declined 1.6% (+24.2% y/y), about as they did in the previous week. Applications to refinance an existing loan eased 0.3% (+44.2% y/y) following an 8.2% jump in the previous week. The refinance share of mortgage activity was little changed at 65.6% of total applications. That remained down from the recent peak of 74.4% during April 2020. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity eased to 2.0% of total applications.

The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate interest rate slipped to a record low of 3.10% from 3.12%. The rate on 15-year loans eased to 2.67% from 2.68%. The effective rate for a Jumbo mortgage loan rose one basis point to 3.40%. The rate on the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage fell to 2.84% from 2.92%.

The average mortgage loan size fell 0.9% (-3.1% y/y) to $319,700. The average size of a purchase loan slipped 0.8% (+11.0% y/y) to $368,500. The average loan size to refinance eased 0.8% (-10.5% y/y) to $294,200.

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 0.5% (+41.6% y/y) and applications for adjustable rate mortgages weakened 9.5% (-51.2% 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) 10/09/20 10/02/20 09/25/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index -0.7 4.6 -4.8 36.6 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase -1.6 -1.5 -1.9 24.2 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing -0.3 8.2 -6.5 44.2 71.1 -24.3 -34.
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.10 3.12 3.20 4.08

(Oct '19)

4.34 4.94 4.32
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