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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Increase; Interest Rates Decline
by Tom Moeller  June 5, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index rose 1.5% (12.7% y/y) during the week ending May 31 after the prior week's 3.3% decline. The rise reflected a 6.4% increase (32.6% y/y) in applications to refinance an existing loan, which also reversed the prior week's decline. Applications to purchase a home fell 2.4% (+0.1% y/y) after declining in five of the prior six weeks.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell w/w to 3.74%, compared to a high of 4.71% early in November 2018. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan declined to 4.33% and remained below the November high of 5.33%. The rate on a 30-year Jumbo mortgage fell to 4.16%, down from its October peak of 5.09%. The rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage fell to 3.69% and reversed the prior week's increase.

The average mortgage loan size rose w/w to $340,800 (12.4% y/y) but remained below the record of $381,700 in late-March. For purchases, the average loan size eased to $330,100 (+4.2% y/y). The average loan refinancing size rose to $335,600 (27.7% y/y). These series date back to 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 12.7% y/y, while adjustable rate loan applications gained 12.4% y/y.

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) 5/31/2019 5/24/2019 5/17/2019 Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Market Index 1.5 -3.3 2.4 12.7 -10.4 -17.8 15.6
  Purchase -2.4 -1.4 -2.0 0.1 2.1 5.6 13.3
  Refinancing 6.4 -6.0 8.3 32.6 -24.3 -34.0 17.3
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.74 3.83 3.88 4.37 (May '18) 4.35 3.59 3.22
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