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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Decline As Interest Rates Rise
by Tom Moeller  July 7,2011

Overall mortgage applications fell 5.2% last week, the third consecutive down week. Again, applications to refinance a mortgage led the decline with a 9.2% drop. Working the other way, applications to purchase a home rose 4.9% w/w after two weeks of decline. During the last ten years, there has been an 81% correlation between the level of purchase applications and new plus existing single family home sales.

Applications for fixed interest rate mortgage financing fell 5.5% last week and reversed a 4.8% June increase. Applications for variable-rate financing slipped 0.3% on the heels of June's 0.9% rise.

The effective fixed-interest rate on conventional 15-year mortgages rose to 4.01% last week after nearing the record low of 3.88%. For 30-year mortgages, the rate was 4.87%. Interest rates on fixed 15-year and 30-year mortgages are closely correlated (near-90%) with the rate on 10-year Treasury securities. Interest on variable rate financing rose to 7.21%, its highest since April.

The Mortgage Bankers Association surveys between 20 to 35 of the top lenders in the U.S. housing industry to derive its refinance, purchase and market indexes. The weekly survey covers roughly 50% of all U.S. residential mortgage applications processed each week by mortgage banks, commercial banks and thrifts. The figures for weekly mortgage applications are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

BA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 7/1/11 6/24/11 6/17/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total Market Index 507.0 534.9 549.9 -29.6 659.3 736.4 642.9
 Purchase 188.9 180.3 185.8 12.0 199.8 263.5 345.4
 Refinancing 2,363.6 2,604.4 2,675.2 -40.1 3,348.1 3,509.2 2,394.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.01 3.92 3.96 4.32
4.39 4.85 5.88
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