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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Rebound While Interest Rates Decline
by Tom Moeller  July 28, 2021

• Applications for refinancing increase, but purchase filings fall.

• Fixed-rate loan applications jump.

• Average loan size increases.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index rose 5.7% (-12.4% y/y) in the week ended July 23, following a 4.0% decline in the prior week. Applications for refinancing rose 9.3% (-9.7% y/y) following a 2.8% decline. Applications to purchase a home fell 1.6% last week (-17.8% y/y) after falling 6.4% in the prior week.

The share of applications for refinancing rose to 67.2% of total applications in the week ended July 23, up from 64.9% the week prior. That remained the highest share since the last week of February. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity rose to 3.6% from 3.3% the prior week.

The effective interest rate on a 30-year mortgage fell to 3.11% last week, the lowest level since the second week of February, from 3.23% in the week prior. The series' low was 2.95% in mid-December, 2020. The effective 15-year rate of 2.44% was down from 2.54% in the week prior. The effective rate for a 30-year Jumbo mortgage loan of 3.19% compared to 2.44% for a 5-year ARM, a record low for the series which dates back to January 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 5.3% (-12.7% y/y) in the week ended July 23, following a 3.8% decline in the prior week. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages rose 15.1% (-2.5% y/y) after declining 9.4% in the week ended July 16.

The average size of mortgage loans rose 4.0% (7.5% y/y) to $357,700 in the week ended July 23. The size of loans to purchase rose 0.7% for a second straight week (10.9% y/y) to $404,200. The size of refinanced loans rose 7.2% (6.0% y/y) to $335,000.

This 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) 07/23/21 07/16/21 07/09/21 Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
Total Market Index 5.7 -4.0 16.0 -12.4 63.0 32.4 -10.4
  Purchase -1.6 -6.4 8.3 -17.8 11.4 6.6 2.1
  Refinancing 9.3 -2.8 20.4 -9.7 111.0 71.1 -24.3
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.11 3.23 3.20 3.30

(Jul '20)

3.40 4.34 4.94
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