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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Decline as Interest Rates Rise
by Tom Moeller  May 2, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Volume Index fell 2.5% last week (-4.2% y/y), following a 0.2% slip during the prior week.

Purchase loan applications declined 1.6% (+4.9% y/y), after little change during the prior week. Applications to refinance were off 3.5% (-15.1% y/y), following a 0.3% decline.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage increased w/w to 4.33%, and remained up sharply from September's low of 3.46%. It was the highest rate since April 2011. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan gained w/w to 4.95%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 4.81%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate increased w/w to 4.20%.

The average mortgage loan size rose to $298,300 (2.7% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size increased to $317,500 (0.3% y/y); for refinancings, it rose to $265,000 (4.2% y/y).

Applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 23.6% y/y, while applications for fixed-rate loans fell 2.5% 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) 04/27/18 04/20/18 04/13/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -2.5 -0.2 4.9 -4.2 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -1.6 0.0 6.1 4.9 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -3.5 -0.3 3.5 -15.1 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.33 4.26 4.20 3.59 (Apr.'17) 3.59 3.22 3.37
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