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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Decline
by Tom Moeller  April 25, 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its index of total mortgage applications fell 3.8% w/w to 697.7 (+58.1% y/y). Applications to refinance led the decline with a 5.6% drop (+89.2% y/y) and reversed half of the prior week's gain. Home purchase applications offset this decline with a modest 2.7% rise (+1.8% y/y). So far this month they've risen 10.7% from the February average. Fixed interest rate loan applications fell and remained down sharply from the January peak while variable rate loan applications moved sideways.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages was roughly unchanged at its low of 3.42%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan also reached a new low of 4.16%. On a 30-year Jumbo the effective rate fell to 4.40%. Though it's narrowed slightly of late, the spread between 15- and 30-year loan rates continued wide by historical standards. The effective interest rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage was unchanged at 2.95%.

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.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 04/20/12 04/13/12 04/06/12 Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total Market Index 697.7 725.4 678.8 58.1 572.3 659.3 736.4
 Purchase 185.4 180.5 203.3 1.8 182.6 199.8 263.5
 Refinancing 3,715.2 3,936.3 3,467.3 89.2 2,858.4 3,348.1 3,509.2
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.42 3.43 3.46 4.33
3.97 4.39 4.85
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