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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Ease
by Tom Moeller  July 25, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index slipped 0.2% last week (-13.4% y/y) following a 2.5% decline during the prior week.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage was little changed at 4.34% and remained up sharply from September's low of 3.40%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan held steady at 4.90%. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan rose to 4.81%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate eased to 4.20%.

Purchase loan applications declined 1.0% (+2.2% y/y) after a 5.2% fall during the prior week. Applications to refinance rose 0.9% (-30.1% y/y) following a 2.2% gain.

The average mortgage loan size increased to $288,000 (1.9% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size was fairly steady at $306,800 (-0.7% y/y); for refinancings, it rose to $255,800 (1.5% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 12.9% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 19.8% 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) 07/20/18 07/13/18 07/06/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -0.2 -2.5 2.5 -13.4 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -1.0 -5.2 6.5 2.2 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing 0.9 2.2 -3.8 -30.1 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.34 4.32 4.30 3.58 (Jul'17) 3.59 3.22 3.3
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