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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Unchanged at End of September
by Sandy Batten  October 3, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index was unchanged (-14.8% y/y) in the week ending September 28 following a 2.9% w/w increase in the preceding week. Purchase loan applications edged up 0.1% w/w (3.1% y/y), their fifth consecutive weekly increase, while applications to refinance slipped 0.1% w/w (-33.3% y/y) after meaningful increases in each of the preceding two weeks.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was little changed from the previous week at 4.52%, but was up markedly from 3.51% at the end of last September. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan was unchanged at 5.11%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was up one basis point to 5.02%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate slipped two basis points in the week to 4.42% following significant increases in each of the previous two weeks.

The average mortgage loan size declined to $289,800 (+1.4% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size dropped to $310,000 (-1.1% y/y); for refinancings, it fell to $258,900 (+0.3% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 15.8% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans edged up 0.8% y/y, the first y/y increase since November 2017.

The 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) 09/28/18 09/21/18 09/14/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 0.0 2.9 1.6 -14.8 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 0.1 2.6 0.3 3.1 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -0.1 3.2 3.7 -33.3 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.52 4.51 4.42 3.51 (Sep'17) 3.59 3.22 3.47
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