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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Are Little Changed; Rates Remain High
by Tom Moeller  April 25, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index eased 0.2% last week (-1.9% y/y), following a 4.9% increase during the prior week.

Purchase loan applications were unchanged (+11.2% y/y), after a 6.1% rise during the prior week. Applications to refinance eased 0.3% (-16.1% y/y), following a 3.5% rise.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage notched up w/w to 4.26%, and remained up sharply from the 3.46% low in September. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan gained w/w to 4.87%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 4.76%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate increased w/w to 4.14%.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $296,100 (1.1% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size increased to $316,900 (1.2% y/y); for refinancings, it fell to $261,100 (-2.2% y/y).

Applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 27.4% y/y, while applications for fixed-rate loans improved 0.6% 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) 04/20/18 04/13/18 04/06/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -0.2 4.9 -1.9 -1.9 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase 0.0 6.1 -2.0 11.2 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -0.3 3.5 -1.7 -16.1 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.26 4.20 4.21 3.59 (Apr.'17) 3.59 3.22 3.37
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