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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Rose Across Most Markets
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  September 15, 2021

• Applications to purchase a house jumped.

• Rates were steady to lower for most types of mortgages.

• The average size of loans rose in the week of September 10.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index rose 0.3% (-6.5% y/y) in the week ended September 10, following a decline of 1.9% (-9.2% y/y) the week of September 3. Applications for purchase jumped 7.5% (-12.1% y/y) following a slight decline of 0.2% (-18.7% y/y) the week prior. Applications for refinancing dropped 3.2% (-3.2% y/y) after a 2.8% decline (-3.6% y/y) the week prior.

The share of applications for refinancing edged down to 64.9% in the week of September 10 from 66.8% the week before. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity rose to 3.3% from 2.5% the week before.

The effective interest rate on a 30-year mortgage stayed steady at 3.12% in the week ended September 10. The effective 15-year rate edged down to 2.41% from 2.43% the week prior. The effective rate for a 30-year Jumbo mortgage loan declined to 3.19% from 3.23%, while the rate on a 5-year adjustable-rate loan rose to 2.72% from 2.62%. These last series date back only to January 2011, while the others begin in January 1990

Applications for fixed-rate loans edged down 0.5% (-7.5%) in the week ended September 10, following a decline of 1.2% (-9.4% y/y) the week prior. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages jumped 30.8% (33.8% y/y) following a decline of 23.8% (1.3% y/y) the prior week.

The average size of mortgage loans was $338,500 in the week of September 10, up from $329,200 the week prior. The size of loans for purchase was $396,800 last week up from $389,800 the week before. The average size of refinance loans also rose, attaining $307,000 up from $299,200 the week of September 3.

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) 09/10/21 09/03/21 08/27/21 Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
Total Market Index 0.3 -1.9 -2.4 -6.5 63.0 32.4 -10.4
  Purchase 7.5 -0.2 0.6 -12.1 11.4 6.6 2.1
  Refinancing -3.2 -2.8 -3.8 -3.2 111.0 71.1 -24.3
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.12 3.12 3.13 3.19

(Sep '20)

3.40 4.34 4.94
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