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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Decline as Interest Rates Rise
by Tom Moeller  August 18, 2021

• Applications fall for both home purchases and refinancings.

• Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage rates increase.

• Loan sizes fall.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index fell 3.9% (-12.0% y/y) in the week ended August 13 following a 2.8% rise in the prior week. Applications for purchase eased 0.8% (-19.1% y/y) after a 1.8% rise. Applications for refinancing weakened 5.3% (-8.4% y/y) after rising 3.2% in the prior week.

The share of applications for refinancing fell to 67.3% of the total last week from 68.0% in the previous week. It remained up from 59.2% early in April. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity held steady at 3.2%, but it has been trending lower since 4.0% in mid-May.

The effective interest rate on a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.16%, its first increase in four weeks. The effective 15-year rate rose to 2.48% from 2.41%. The effective rate for a 30-year Jumbo mortgage loan increased four basis points to 3.27%. Working higher was the rate on a 5-year adjustable rate loan to 2.98% from last week's series low of 2.58%. (This series dates back only to January 2011.)

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 4.0% (-12.5% y/y) in the week ended August 13 following a 3.0% increase in the prior week. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages fell 1.6% (+4.9% y/y) after falling 4.8% in the previous week.

The average size of mortgage loans fell to $399,200 last week from $345,200 in the previous week. The size of loans to purchase eased to $393,700. The size of refinanced loans declined to $312,700, a four week low.

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) 08/13/21 08/06/21 07/30/21 Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
Total Market Index -3.9 2.8 -1.7 -12.0 63.0 32.4 -10.4
  Purchase -0.8 1.8 -1.7 -19.1 11.4 6.6 2.1
  Refinancing -5.3 3.2 -1.7 -8.4 111.0 71.1 -24.3
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.16 3.08 3.07 3.20

(Aug '20)

3.40 4.34 4.94
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