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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline Again
by Tom Moeller  February 22, 2017

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Market Volume Index fell 2.0% last week (-28.8% y/y) following a 3.7% decline during the week prior. Purchase applications were off 2.8% (-0.5% y/y) after a 4.5% fall. Refinancing applications eased 1.0% (-45.9% y/y) following a 2.9% decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage was stable at 3.65%, but remained higher than the July low of 2.97%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan of 4.46% was higher than the 3.70% low in early-July. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was stable at 4.37%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate of 3.46% was steady w/w, but higher than the 2.87% low early in July.

The average mortgage loan size eased w/w to $277,300 (-4.1% y/y). For purchases, it was steady at $311,300 (4.6% y/y); for refinancings, it declined to $237,700 (-16.2% y/y).

Applications for fixed interest rate loans declined 29.8% y/y, while applications for variable interest rate loans fell 10.9% 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) 02/17/17 02/10/17 02/03/17 Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total Market Index -2.0 -3.7 2.3 -28.8 15.6 17.9 -41.4
 Purchase -2.8 -4.5 1.8 -0.5 13.3 15.5 -12.9
 Refinancing -1.0 -2.9 2.2 -45.9 17.3 19.7 -52.8
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.65 3.64 3.64 3.22 (Feb '16) 3.22 3.37 3.54
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