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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Rise
by Tom Moeller  December 8, 2021

• Refinancing applications increase but purchase applications decline.

• 30-year mortgage rate eases.

• Purchase loan size declines.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index rose 2.0% (-28.6% y/y) in the week ended December 3 following a 7.2% decline in the prior week. Applications for loans to refinance gained 9.0% (-36.6% y/y) following a 14.8% decline in the prior week. Applications for loans to purchase a house fell 5.0% (-8.1% y/y) and reversed all of the prior week's increase.

The share of applications for refinancing rose to 63.9% in the week ended December 3, the most since early-October. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 3.00% from 3.60% the week before. It was the least since late-September.

The effective interest rate on a 30-year mortgage eased to 3.41% last week from 3.43% in the prior week. The effective rate on a 15-year rate mortgage was little changed at 2.70%. The effective rate for a 30-year Jumbo mortgage loan rose to 3.42% last week versus 3.37% in the November 26 week, while the rate on a 5-year adjustable-rate loan of 3.06% was increased from 2.58% in the prior week. The last two series date back only to January 2011, while the others begin in January 1990.

Applications for fixed-rate loans rose 2.7% (-28.3% y/y) in the week ended December 3, after a 7.5% decline in the prior week. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages declined 15.2% (+29.4% y/y) following a 0.9% easing in the previous week.

The average size of a mortgage loans was $334,000 in the week ending December 3 compared to $351,400 in the week prior. The average size of loans for purchase was $397,200 in the latest week versus $414,700 one week earlier. The average size of refinanced loans rose to $298,300, down from $308,100 in the prior week.

This 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) 12/03/21 11/26/21 11/19/21 Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
Total Market Index 2.0 -7.2 1.8 -28.6 63.0 32.4 -10.4
  Purchase -5.0 5.1 4.7 -8.1 11.4 6.6 2.1
  Refinancing 9.0 -14.8 0.4 -36.6 111.0 71.1 -24.3
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 3.41 3.43 3.35 2.97

(Dec. '20)

3.40 4.34 4.94
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