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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Edge Higher; Interest Rates Rise
by Tom Moeller  October 27, 2021

• Purchases loans increase but refinancings fall. 

• Interest rates rise to highest level since April.

• Loan refinancings decline.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index edged 0.3% higher (-20.1% y/y) in the week ended October  22, following a 6.3% decline in the prior week. Mortgage applications for purchase improved 3.5% last week (-9.3% y/y) following a  4.9% decline. Applications for refinancing were off 1.6% (-25.5% y/y), the fifth consecutive weekly decline.

The share of applications for refinancing fell to 62.2% in the week of October 22 from 63.3% in the week prior. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 3.1%, the lowest level in five weeks.

The effective interest rate on a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.40% last week from 3.33% in the prior week. It was the highest level since the first week of April and compares to a 3.07% late-July low. The effective 15-year rate rose to 2.67% from 2.61% in the prior week. The effective rate for a 30-year Jumbo mortgage loan increased to 3.43%, up from 3.35% in the prior week. The rate on a 5-year adjustable-rate loan declined to 2.94% from 3.20% in the prior week. These last series date back only to January 2011, while the others begin in January 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans improved 0.5% (-20.9%) in the week ended October 22 after a 6.2% decline in the week previous. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages declined 5.0% (+16.2% y/y), the fourth straight week of decline.

The average size of mortgage loans eased to $334,600 in the week of October 22 from $335,000 in the week prior. The size of loans for purchase was $409,500 last week, the lowest level in five weeks. The average size of refinanced loans declined to $289,200, down from a high of $333,600 in late July.

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) 10/22/21 10/15/21 10/08/21 Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
Total Market Index  0.3 -6.3 0.2 -20.1 63.0 32.4 -10.4
  Purchase  3.5 -4.9 1.5 -9.3 11.4 6.6 2.1
  Refinancing -1.6 -7.1 -0.5 -25.5 111.0 71.1 -24.3
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%)  3.40 3.33 3.29 3.11

(Oct '20)

3.40 4.34 4.94
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