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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Application Volume Surges As Rates Fall
by Tom Moeller  March 9, 2022

• Increase is first in five weeks.

• Purchase and refinancing applications rise.

• Mortgage interest rates ease.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index increased 8.5% (-35.9% y/y) in the week ending March 4 following four consecutive weekly declines. Applications to purchase a home jumped 8.6% (-7.4% y/y) after falling 1.8% in the prior week. Refinancing applications increased 8.5% (-50.0% y/y) after improving 0.5% in the previous week.

The share of applications for refinancing fell to 49.5% in the week ended March 4 from 49.9% in the previous week. That share is down significantly from 73.1% averaged in December 2020. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity of 5.2% compared to 5.3% in the prior week.

Mortgage interest rates slipped last week. The effective rate on a 30-year mortgage eased to 4.22% from 4.28%. The effective rate on a 15-year mortgage fell to 3.50% from 3.59% in the previous week. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year mortgage declined to 3.91% from 3.99%. The interest rate on a 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.49% from 3.57%.

Applications for fixed-rate loans increased 8.6% in the week of March 4 (-37.4% y/y) after four consecutive weekly declines. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages increased 7.1% (11.5% y/y) after rising 3.5% in the previous week.

The average size of a mortgage loan increased 0.4% (12.9% y/y) in the week of March 4 to $376,200. The average size of a loan for purchase fell 0.8% (+10.0% y/y) to $450,900. The average size of a refinanced loan rose 1.7% (3.1% y/y) to $299,900.

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) 03/04/22 02/25/22 02/18/22 Y/Y 2021 2020 2019
Total Market Index 8.5 -0.7 -13.1 -35.9 -8.0 63.0 32.4
  Purchase 8.6 -1.8 -10.1 -7.4 -2.3 11.4 6.6
  Refinancing 8.5 0.5 -15.6 -50.0 -10.7 111.0 71.1
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 4.22 4.28 4.20 3.43

(Mar. '21)

3.25 3.40 4.34
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