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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline; Rates Steady
by Tom Moeller  May 17, 2017

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index fell 4.1% (-17.9% y/y) in the week ended May 12, after a 2.4% increase during the prior week. Refinancing applications declined 5.7% (-36.5% y/y) following a 3.3% rise. Purchase applications were off 2.7% (+8.7% y/y) after a 1.7% rise.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage held steady at 3.59%, close to where it's been since December. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan notched higher to 4.34%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan ticked higher w/we to 4.32%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate eased w/w to 3.38%.

The average mortgage loan size was unchanged at $291,600 (3.7% y/y). For purchases, loan size increased to $322,300 (6.5% y/y); for refinancings, it fell to $247,600 (-6.1% y/y).

Applications for adjustable rate loans increased 21.1% y/y, while applications for fixed rate loans declined 20.1% 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) 05/12 05/05/17 04/28/17 Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total Market Index -4.1 2.4 -0.1 -17.9 15.6 17.9 -41.4
 Purchase -2.7 1.7 4.2 8.7 13.3 15.5 -12.9
 Refinancing -5.7 3.3 -4.7 -36.5 17.3 19.7 -52.8
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.59 3.60 3.59 3.16 (May '16) 3.22 3.37 3.54
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