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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Loan Applications Continue to Decline
by Tom Moeller  August 8, 2018

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its total Mortgage Applications Index fell 3.0% last week (-18.2% y/y) following a 2.6% drop during the prior week. It was the fourth consecutive weekly decline and left the level of applications at its lowest since January 2016.

The effective interest rate on a 15-year mortgage was fairly steady w/w at 4.38% but remained up sharply from last September's low of 3.40%. The effective rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan held steady at 4.97%, but was up versus its 4.15% September low. The rate on a Jumbo 30-year loan also was unchanged at 4.86%. For adjustable 5-year mortgages, the effective interest rate eased to 4.23%.

Purchase loan applications fell 2.0% (-1.8% y/y), about the same as during the prior week. It was also the fourth straight decline and left applications at the lowest level since February. Applications to refinance fell 4.5% (-35.3% y/y) as they continued the decline in place since the middle of last year.

The average mortgage loan size increased to $289,200 (3.5% y/y). For purchases, the average loan size eased to $308,000 (-2.1% y/y); for refinancings, it rose to $256,800 (1.1% y/y).

Applications for fixed-rate loans fell 17.8% y/y while applications for adjustable-rate loans declined 24.4% 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) 08/03/18 07/27/18 07/20/18 Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total Market Index -3.0 -2.6 -0.2 -18.2 -17.8 15.6 17.9
 Purchase -2.0 -3.1 -1.0 -1.8 5.6 13.3 15.5
 Refinancing -4.5 -1.7 0.9 -35.3 -34.0 17.3 19.7
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 4.38 4.42 4.34 3.49 (Aug'17) 3.59 3.22 3.3
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