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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Application Volume Eases, Rates Rise
by Carol Stone, CBE  March 16, 2022

• March 11 week decrease follows sizable advance the week before.

• Applications to purchase edge higher as refinance activity declines.

• Mortgage interest rates advance 20 basis points.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index eased 1.2% (-35.2% y/y) in the week ending March 11 after the previous week’s 8.5% increase. The latest week’s decline came from applications to refinance, which fell 2.8% (-49.3% y/y) after an 8.5% advance in the March 4 week. Applications to purchase a home increased 0.7% (-8.4% y/y) following an advance of 8.6% in the March 4 week.

The share of applications for refinancing fell to 48.4% in the week ended March 11 from 49.5% the previous week. This latest week has the smallest refinance share since May 31, 2019, when it was 42.2%. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity in the latest week was 5.6%, up from 5.2% the week before.

Mortgage interest rates resumed increasing in the March 11 week, rising to 4.42% for 30-year fixed-rate loans from 4.22% the week before. The effective rate on a 15-year mortgage was 3.66% in the latest week after the prior week’s 3.50%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year mortgage rose to 4.13% from 3.91% while that on a 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage declined to 3.44% from 3.49%.

Applications for fixed-rate loans decreased 1.5% in the March 11 week (-37.1% y/y) following their advance of 8.6% in March 4 week. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages increased 4.9% (31.4% y/y) after rising 7.1% in the previous week.

The average size of a mortgage loan edged down marginally, 0.03% (14.9% y/y), in the week of March 11 to $376,100. The average size of a loan for purchase rose 0.5% (+11.6% y/y) to $453,200. The average size of a refinanced loan decreased 2.0% (4.8% y/y) to $294,000.

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) 03/11/22 03/04/22 02/25/22 Y/Y 2021 2020 2019
Total Market Index -1.2 8.5 -0.7 -35.2 -8.0 63.0 32.4
  Purchase 0.7 8.6 -1.8 -8.4 -2.3 11.4 6.6
  Refinancing -2.8 8.5 0.5 -49.3 -10.7 111.0 71.1
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 4.42 4.22 4.28 3.43

(Mar. '21)

3.25 3.40 4.34
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