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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Fall Sharply
by Tom Moeller  February 21, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index declined 6.6% last week (+0.4% y/y) and added to the prior week's 4.1% fall. Purchase loan applications dropped 6.2% (+4.0% y/y), about the same as during the prior week. Applications to refinance fell 7.1% (-3.6% y/y) following a 1.9% decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage remained elevated at 4.18%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan increased to 4.82%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 4.76%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate was stable w/w at 3.87%.

The average mortgage loan size was fairly stable at $291,900, up 5.3% y/y. For purchases, the average loan size was $315,800 (1.4% y/y); for refinancings, it eased to $262,000 (+10.2% y/y).

Applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 11.0% y/y, while applications for fixed-rate loans rose 1.3% 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) 02/16/18 02/09/18 02/02/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -6.6 -4.1 0.7 0.4 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -6.2 -5.9 -0.0 4.0 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -7.1 -1.9 0.9 -3.6 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.18 4.17 4.09 3.63 (Feb '17) 3.59 3.22 3.37
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