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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Declined for Fifth Consecutive Week
by Sandy Batten  April 13, 2022

• Lowest level for total applications since March 2019.

• Sharp decline in refinancing applications continued; purchase applications rose.

• Rise in mortgage interest rates accelerated.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Loan Applications Index fell 1.3% w/w (-41.1% y/y) in the week ended April 8, their fifth consecutive weekly decline and the eighth in the past nine weeks, to their lowest level since the week ended March 15, 2019. Over the past five weeks, applications have fallen 21.7%. The persistent decline continued to be led by applications for refinancing, which fell 4.9% w/w (-62.0% y/y) in the most recent week after a 9.9% weekly decline in the previous week. Applications for purchase rebounded slightly, rising 1.4% w/w (-6.3% y/y) following a 3.4% w/w decline in the prior week.

The share of applications for refinancing declined for the tenth consecutive week to 37.1% in the week ended April 8, the lowest since August 2018, from 38.8% in the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity rose for the fifth consecutive week to 7.4%, the highest since June 2019, from 6.8% in the previous week.

Mortgage interest rates rose markedly in the week of April 8. The effective rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans jumped up 25bps to 5.31%, the highest since November 2018. This rate has risen 236bps from its recent low of 2.95% in December 2021. The effective rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans also rose 25bps in the latest week to 4.50%, its highest since December 2018. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan increased 18bps to 4.79% and the rate on the 5-year ARM jumped 32bps to 4.31%.

Applications for fixed-rate loans declined 1.9% w/w (-43.4% y/y) in the week ended April 8, their ninth weekly decline in the past 10 weeks. Applications for adjustable-rate mortgages increased 8.3% w/w (+21.7% y/y) following a 4.1% weekly decline in the previous week.

The average size of a mortgage loan rose 0.7% w/w (+21.5% y/y) to a record-high $392,000 in the week ended April 8. The average size of a loan for purchase edged up 0.1% w/w (+13.5% y/y) to $453,000. The average size of a refinanced loan declined 0.3% w/w (+6.9% y/y) to $288,300.

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) 04/08/22 04/01/22 03/25/22 Y/Y 2021 2020 2019
Total Market Index -1.3 -6.3 -6.8 -41.1 -8.0 63.0 32.4
  Purchase 1.4 -3.4 0.6 -6.3 -2.3 11.4 6.6
  Refinancing -4.9 -9.9 -14.9 -62.0 -10.7 111.0 71.1
30-Year Effective Mortgage Interest Rate (%) 5.31 5.06 4.96 3.34

(Apr. '21)

3.25 3.40 4.34
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