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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Slip Overall, But Purchase Applications Rebound
by Tom Moeller  November 18, 2020

• Home purchase applications rise following two weeks of decline.

• Refinancing applications weaken.

The Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Loan Applications Index eased 0.3% (+68.6% y/y) in the week ended November 13, about as it did during the prior week. Purchase applications rebounded 3.5% (25.7% y/y) after falling 2.6% in the prior week and 1.3% in the last week of October. Applications to refinance a loan fell 1.8% (+97.9% y/y) following a 0.6% improvement. The refinancing share of total applications was little changed at 69.8%, remaining near the highest point since early-May. Adjustable rate mortgages' share of the total number of applications was fairly steady at 1.9%.

Interest rates were fairly steady this past week as 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates were 3.09%, roughly a record low. The rate on 15-year loans edged up to 2.68% from 2.64% which was also near the record low. The effective rate for a Jumbo mortgage fell three basis points to 3.19%, another record low. (This series began in January 2011). The rate on the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage rose modestly to 3.03%.

The average mortgage loan size fell 1.4% w/w to $314,600 (+1.5% y/y). The average size of a purchase loan edged 0.2% higher to $368,900 (11.6% y/y) in the week ended November 15, down from the record high of $373,000 two weeks earlier. The average loan size to refinance fell to $291,100 (-1.5% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans eased 0.2% w/w (+53.8% y/y) and applications for adjustable-rate mortgages fell 4.9% w/w (-38.1% 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) 11/13/20 11/06/20 10/30/20 Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Market Index -0.3 -0.5 3.8 68.6 32.4 -10.4 -17.8
  Purchase 3.5 -2.6 -1.3 25.7 6.6 2.1 5.6
  Refinancing -1.8 0.6 6.4 97.9 71.1 -24.3 -34.0
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.09 3.08 3.12 4.08

(Nov '19)

4.34 4.94 4.32
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