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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Slip While Interest Rates Rise
by Tom Moeller  October 21, 2020

• Purchase applications continue to decline.

• Mortgage interest rates rise slightly.

The Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Loan Applications Index eased 0.6% (+54.3% y/y) in the week ended October 16, about the same as during the previous week.

Purchase applications declined 2.1% (+26.1% y/y), down for the fourth straight week. Applications to refinance an existing loan rose 0.2% (+74.3% y/y) following a 0.3% easing in the previous week. The refinance share of mortgage activity improved to 66.1% of total applications, down from the recent peak of 74.4% during April 2020. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity eased to 1.9% of total applications.

Interest rates edged up last week. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate interest rate edged higher to 3.13% from the 3.10% record low during the prior week. The rate on 15-year loans edged up to 2.69% from 2.67%. The effective rate for a Jumbo mortgage loan rose two basis points to 3.42%. The rate on the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage increased to 3.07% from 2.84%.

The average mortgage loan size rose 0.2% (2.5% y/y) to $320,400. The average size of a purchase loan rose 0.9% (12.8% y/y) to $372,000. The average loan size to refinance eased 0.1% (-2.2% y/y) to $294,000.

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 0.5% (+58.6% y/y) and applications for adjustable-rate mortgages weakened 2.9% (-37.7% 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.

Achieving a Broad-Based and Inclusive Recovery is the title of today's speech by Fed Governor Lael Brainard and it can be found here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (%, SA) 10/16/20 10/09/20 10/02/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index -0.6 -0.7 4.6 54.3 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase -2.1 -1.6 -1.5 26.1 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing 0.2 -0.3 8.2 74.3 71.1 -24.3 -34.
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.13 3.10 3.12 4.08

(Oct '19)

4.34 4.94 4.32
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