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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Fall; Interest Rates Remain Elevated
by Tom Moeller  April 4, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index declined 3.3% last week (-2.3% y/y), following a 4.8% increase during the prior week.

Purchase loan applications fell 2.1% (+5.2% y/y), after a 3.1% increase. Applications to refinance declined 4.9% (-11.1% y/y), following a 7.3% strengthening.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage held steady w/w at 4.20%, up sharply from the 3.46% low in September. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan was unchanged w/w at 4.81%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan eased to 4.64%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate fell w/w to 3.98%.

The average mortgage loan size dropped to $290,500 (+1.3% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size declined to $310,300 (-2.5% y/y); for refinancings, it fell to $258,900 (+5.8% y/y).

Applications for adjustable-rate loans fell 25.2% y/y, while applications for fixed-rate loans eased 0.2% 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) 03/30/18 03/23/18 03/16/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -3.3 4.8 -1.1 -2.3 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -2.1 3.1 1.4 5.2 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -4.9 7.3 -4.5 -11.1 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.20 4.21 4.25 3.71 (Mar'17) 3.59 3.22 3.37
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