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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Surge
by Tom Moeller  January 10, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index strengthened 8.3% last week (2.9% y/y) following declines during the prior four weeks. Purchase loan applications rose 5.0% (0.3% y/y) following a 2.6% decline. Applications to refinance surged 11.4% (6.5% y/y) following four weeks of decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage of 3.76% was little changed w/w, but was up sharply from 3.46% in September. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan held steady w/w to 4.33%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan was fairly stable at 4.22%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate eased to 3.69%, up from September's low of 3.25%.

The average mortgage loan size improved to $275,900, up 4.3% y/y. For purchases, the average loan size increased to $300,500 (1.2% y/y); for refinancings, it rose to $254,000 (8.9% y/y).

Applications for adjustable rate loans declined 7.4% y/y, while applications for fixed rate loans rose 3.5% 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) 1/5/18 12/29/17 12/22/17 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index 8.3 -1.6 -3.5 2.9 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 5.0 -2.6 1.2 0.3 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 11.4 -0.5 -8.4 6.5 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.76 3.72 3.75 3.65 (Jan. '17) 3.59 3.22 3.37
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