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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Remain Depressed
by Tom Moeller  March 12, 2014

The Mortgage Bankers Association indicated that their total mortgage market index fell 2.1% last week (-54.7% y/y) following an upturn in the prior period. Applications remained 63.4% lower than the peak in September 2012. Applications to purchase a home slipped 0.5% (-17.4% y/y) and were 23.5% below the peak this past May. Applications to refinance a loan declined 3.1% (-65.3% y/y) and were 73.7% below the peak in September 2012.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage of 3.60% remained up from the 2.89% low early in May of 2013. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan of 4.61% last week also remained higher than the 3.68% last May. Finally, the rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan of 4.47% compared to a low of 3.85%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate at 3.31% remained up from its low of 2.59% at the beginning of May, 2013.

Applications for fixed interest rate loans fell 2.5% (-56.4% y/y) and were 65.0% below the September 2012 high while adjustable rate loan applications gained 1.8% (-17.9% y/y) and were 35.1% below last June's high. The average mortgage loan size rose to $236,000, up sharply from the $209,000 averaged in February of last year. The average loan size for home purchases moved up to $274,800 last week and for refinancings it was $206,400.

The survey covers over 75 percent 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.

How Fast Will Labor Productivity Grow in the Long Run? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 03/07/14 02/28/14 02/21/14 Y/Y% 2013 2012 2011
Total Market Index 373.3 381.4 348.5 -54.7 616.6 813.8 572.3
 Purchase 168.8 169.6 155.0 -17.4 197.5 187.8 182.6
 Refinancing 1,547.9 1,597.6 1,457.2 -65.3 3,070.0 4,505.0 2,858.4
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.60 3.57 3.63 3.10
3.42 3.25 3.97
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