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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline as Interest Rates Stabilize
by Tom Moeller  March 18, 2015

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that their total Mortgage Market Volume Index declined 3.9% last week (+6.7% y/y). Applications have moved roughly one-quarter lower since a late-January peak. Refinance applications led the way with a 5.2% w/w decline (+10.8% y/y) and have fallen by more than one-third since the mid-January peak. Home purchase applications fell 1.9% w/w (+0.7% y/y) and were off 11.7% from the peak nine weeks ago.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage held steady at 3.36%. It remained higher, however, versus its low of 3.17% eight weeks ago. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan held at 4.10%, up from its low of 3.87%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan fell w/w to 4.04%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate declined w/w to 3.15% but and compare to 3.02% eight weeks ago.

The average mortgage loan size held fairly steady at $264,300 (13.3% y/y). For home purchases, it gained to $296,100 (8.5% y/y) and for refinancings it was steady at $242,100 (19.5% y/y).

Applications for fixed interest rate loans increased 9.5% y/y but adjustable rate loan applications declined 25.9% y/y.

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.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 03/13/15 03/06/15 02/27/15 Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total Market Index 399.3 415.4 420.7 6.7 361.5 616.6 813.8
 Purchase 170.4 173.0 169.8 0.7 172.1 197.5 187.8
 Refinancing 1,720.3 1,815.3 1,870.3 10.8 1,449.8 3,070.0 4,505.0
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.36 3.36 3.35 3.64
3.54 3.42 3.25
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