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Mortgage App Volume Declines Across the Board
Wed, 24 Apr 2024 12:36:59 GMT

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, fell back for the first time in three weeks during the week ended Aril 19 as interest rates continued to rise.  The Index declined 2.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier and was 2.0 percent lower before adjustment. The Refinance Index decreased 6.0 percent from the previous week and was 3.0 percent higher than the same week in 2023. The refinance share of applications was also down, declining to 30.8 percent from 32.1 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1.0 percent, the fifth decline in the last six weeks. The unadjusted Purchase Index did increase fractionally but was 15 percent lower than during the same week one year ago. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage rates continued to move higher last week, reaching their highest levels since late 2023 and putting a damper on applications activity. The 30-year fixed rate increased for the third consecutive week to 7.24 percent, the highest since November 2023,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “ Purchase applications declined, as home buyers delayed their purchase decisions due to strained affordability and low supply. T he ARM share of applications increased to 7.6 percent, consistent with the upward trend in rates, as buyers look to reduce their potential monthly payments.”

Spring New Home Sales Prove Resilient to Higher Rates
Tue, 23 Apr 2024 16:47:34 GMT

Existing home sales posted strong gains in February while sales of new homes slipped slightly. In March each category switched directions. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said newly constructed homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 693,000 compared to 668,000 in February while the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that existing home sales fell from a rate of 4.38 million units the prior month to 4.19 million. The increase in new home sales put those transactions up 8.8 percent compared to February and 8.3 percent higher than the March 2023 pace. Sales of previously owned single-family homes, townhouses, condos, and cooperative apartments were down 4.3 percent and 3.7 percent compared to the two earlier periods. [newhomesall] Existing single-family home sales also declined 4.3 percent in March to a 3.97-million-unit sales pace while condo and cooperative apartment sales were down 4.9 percent to 390,000 units.  Single-family sales were 2.8 percent and multi-family sales were 11.4 percent lower year-over-year. New home sales rose by 10,000 units from February to 67,000 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Analysts polled by Trading Economics had expected new home sales to remain at February’s 668,000 level and had expected a smaller 2.2 percent decline in existing home sales to 4.2 million units. The inventory of new homes remains healthy with 477,000 unsold homes , an estimated 8.3-month supply at the current rate of sales and a monthly increase of 5.7 percent. The number of existing homes available for sale did increase by 4.7 percent to 1.11 million units but remains anemic at a 3.2-month supply.

Mortgage App Volume Ticks Higher Despite Higher Rates
Wed, 17 Apr 2024 12:35:45 GMT

Mortgage interest rates rose for the second straight week, and so did the volume of mortgage applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of that volume, increased 3.3 percent on an adjusted basis from one week earlier and 4.0 percent before adjustment.   The Refinance Index increased 0.5 percent from the previous week and was 11 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of activity decreased to 32.1 percent from 33.3 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was up 5 percent from one week earlier, and the unadjusted version was 6.0 percent higher. Purchasing activity was down 10 percent compared to the same week in 2023. [purchaseappschart]  “Rates increased for the second consecutive week, driven by incoming data indicating that the economy remains strong and inflation is proving tougher to bring down. Mortgage rates increased across the board, with the 30-year fixed rate at 7.13 percent – reaching its highest level since December 2023,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “ Despite these higher rates, application activity picked up, possibly as some borrowers decided to act in case rates continue to rise. Purchase applications drove most of the increase but remain at low levels of around 10 percent behind last year’s pace. Refinance applications increased very slightly, driven by a 3 percent gain in conventional applications.”

Residential Construction Fall and Builder Confidence Flattens in Uncertain Rate Environment
Tue, 16 Apr 2024 15:41:00 GMT

While builder confidence in the market for new residential construction improved in March, it remained flat in April and residential construction numbers showed a decline in momentum as well. Residential construction starts, which had surged in February, gave back all of those gains in March. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report that construction began at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.321 million housing units during the month, a decline of 14.7 percent from February’s level of 1.549 million units. Starts were 4.3 percent lower than their level in March 2023. Single-family starts fell 12.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.022 million and multifamily starts dived 20.8 percent to 290,000 units. The two categories were down 21.2 percent and 43.7 percent respectively year-over-year. Permits also declined. The annual rate was 4.3 percent lower at 1.458 million units compared to 1.523 million in February. Permits increased 1.5 percent on an annual basis. Single-family authorizations dropped from 1.032 million to 973,000, a 5.7 percent decline. This was still a 17.4 percent improvement from March of last year. Multifamily permits were unchanged at 433,000 units, down 22.1 percent year-over-year. Analysts polled by Econoday had forecast starts at 1,480 million and permits at 1.510 million, substantially overshooting both numbers. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) broke a four-month string of gains this month, remaining at the 51 level, unchanged from March, but still above the key breakeven point of 50.

Borrowers Pick Up Pace of Refinancing    
Wed, 10 Apr 2024 12:39:15 GMT

The interest rate for conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) again topped 7 percent last week, but mortgage application activity still squeezed out a tiny gain.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of application volume, increased 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 0.2 percent compared with the previous week. But that tiny gain was due solely to a 10.0 percent increase in refinancing (plus 4.0 percent year-over-year) while the purchase mortgage level fell 5.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. Refinancing accounted for 33.3 percent of applications during the week compared to 30.3 percent a week earlier. [refiappschart] The non-seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was 4.0 percent lower last week and down 23 percent from its level the same week one year ago. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage rates moved higher last week as several Federal Reserve officials reiterated a patient posture on rate cuts. Inflation remains stubbornly above the Fed’s target, and the broader economy continues to show resiliency. Unexpectedly strong employment data released last week further added to the upward pressure on rates,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “The 30-year fixed rate increased to 7.01 percent, the highest in over a month. Purchase applications were down almost five percent to the lowest level since the end of February, but refinance applications were up 10 percent, driven particularly by VA refinance applications.”

Persistent High Rates Have Application Volume Stuck in Neutral
Wed, 03 Apr 2024 12:16:31 GMT

Mortgage application activity drifted lower again last week , the third straight week of mostly fractional declines. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Market Composite Index, a measure of application volume, decreased 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier and 0.1 percent before adjustment. The Refinance Index declined by 2.0 percent from the previous week and was 5.0 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity slipped to 30.3 percent from 30.8 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index ticked down by 0.1 percent week over week but did move 1.0 percent higher on an unadjusted basis. Purchase activity was 13.0 percent lower than during the same week in 2023.    [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage rates moved lower last week, but that did little to ignite overall mortgage application activity. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate declined slightly to 6.91 percent, while the 15-year fixed-rate decreased to its lowest level in two months at 6.35 percent,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Elevated mortgage rates continued to weigh down on home buying. Purchase applications were unchanged overall, although FHA purchases did pick up slightly over the week. Refinance applications decreased to fall 5 percent below last year’s pace.”  Other Highlights from MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Application Survey

Little Change in Mortgage Application Volume, Despite Lower Rates
Wed, 27 Mar 2024 12:42:44 GMT

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its Market Composite Index moved lower last week, apparently indifferent to a slight improvement in mortgage interest rates. The Index, which measures loan application volume, decreased 0.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.  On an unadjusted basis, the Index declined 0.4 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 2.0 percent from the previous week and was 9.0 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 30.8 percent of total applications compared to 31.2 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The Purchase Index ticked down 0.2 percent both before and after its seasonal adjustment.  It was 16.0 percent lower than the same week one year ago. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage application activity was muted last week despite slightly lower mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed rate edged lower to 6.93 percent, but that was not enough to stimulate borrower demand,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Purchase applications were essentially unchanged, as homebuyers continue to hold out for lower mortgage rates and for more listings to hit the market. Lower rates should help to free up additional inventory as the lock-in effect is reduced, but we expect that will only take place gradually, as we forecast that rates will move toward 6 percent by the end of the year. Similarly, with rates remaining elevated, there is very little incentive right now for rate/term refinances.” 

New Home Sales Decline Slightly, Prices Too
Tue, 26 Mar 2024 17:53:26 GMT

Sales of newly constructed homes were virtually unchanged in February. The 662,000 seasonally adjusted annual units recorded in during the month was down by 2,000 units or 0.3 percent from the rate in January. This did, however, put sales 5.9 percent higher than they were in February 2023. The report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that, before adjustment, sales for the month totaled 60,000 units compared to 57,000 the previous month and 56,000 in February of last year. Thus far this year, sales of new homes are up 4.4 percent over the same period in 2023 at 117,000 units. The median price of houses sold during the reporting period was $400,500 and the average price was $485,000. In February 2023 the relative prices were $433,300 and $499,100. At the end of February there were an estimated 451,000 new homes available for sale. This is a projected 8.4-month supply at the current sales pace and is unchanged from the inventory level one year earlier. Robert Dietz, economist for the National Association of Home Builders noted, “Completed and ready-to-occupy inventory has increased 23 percent over the last year, rising to 85,000 homes. Homes advertised for sale but not started construction have increased almost 18 percent over the last year to 106,000. In contrast, homes available for sale that are under construction have declined 2 percent to 272,000.”

Existing Home Sales Shoot Higher; Inventory also Improves
Fri, 22 Mar 2024 17:44:21 GMT

Rather than easing back from the January level as expected, existing home sales shot significantly higher in February, The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said pre-owned single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums, and cooperative apartments sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million units. This is an increase of 9.5 percent from the 4.0 million unit pace the previous month and the largest monthly increase since last February. Sales still trailed that month’s 4.53-million-unit rate by 3.3 percent. Analysts polled by Econoday had a consensus estimate for sales of 3.92 million units while Trading Economics had projected the rate at 3.94 million. Single-family home sales grew to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.97 million in February, a 10.3 percent gain, but were down 2.7 percent year-over-year. The annual sales rate for condos and coops (410,000 units) was 2.5 percent higher than in January, but 8.9 percent below the February 2023 pace. Despite the increase in sales, the number of homes available for sale also climbed, rising 5.9 percent from January and 10.3 percent from the previous February to 1,07 million units. This is estimated at a 2.9-month supply at the current rate of sales. Still, inventory remains well below the five-to-six-month supply considered a balanced market. The median existing home price for all housing types in February was $384,500, an increase of 5.7 percent from $363,600 a year earlier. It was the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year price gains and was the highest price ever recorded for the month of February. The median price for a single-family home was $388,700, a 5.6 percent annual increase while condos appreciated by 6.7 percent to a median of $344,000.

Mortgage App Volume Retreats Slightly as Rates Rise
Wed, 20 Mar 2024 12:14:42 GMT

After rising a cumulative 17 percentage points over the prior two weeks, mortgage application volume slowed slightly last week. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of that volume, decreased 1.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier and was 1.0 percent lower on an unadjusted basis.   Both home purchasing and refinancing activity pulled back. The Refinance Index decreased 3 percent from the previous week and was 3.0 percent lower than the same week in 2023. The Purchase Index slid 1.0 percent both before and after adjustment and was 14 percent lower year-over-year. [refiappschart] [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage rates increased last week as incoming data showed inflation was still hotter than expected, which stoked concerns about the timing and extent to which the Fed might be able to reduce the fed funds rates this year. After three weeks of declines, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to 6.97 percent,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “ Mortgage applications continued to show sensitivity to rate movements , and both purchase and refinance activity decreased over the week. With housing supply low and prices high, the average loan size for purchase applications increased to the highest level since May 2022.” Other Data from MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Application Survey. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 31.2 percent of total applications from 31.6 percent the previous week. Even though the size of purchase loans rose $1,200 to the new recent high of $445,000, the average for all loans dipped by about $1,000 to $389,800. FHA and VA loan applications each accounted for 12.1 percent of the total and the USDA share was 0.5 percent. All three were essentially unchanged from the prior week. The 6.97 percent interest rate for conforming 30-year mortgages (FRMs) represented an increase of 13 basis points from the previous week. Points decreased to 0.64 from 0.65. The average rate for jumbo 30-year FRM rose to 7.14 percent from 7.04 percent, with points increasing to 0.54 from 0.38. Thirty-year FRM with FHA backing had an average rate of 6.89 percent with 1.04 points. The prior week the rate was 6.77 percent with 0.95 point. The rate for 15-year FRM; rose 12 basis points to 6.49 percent while points decreased 0.70 from 0.77. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) was 6.33 percent, declining from 6.38 percent a week earlier. Points averaged 0.55, up from 0.52. The ARM share of activity decreased to 7.2 percent of total applications from 7.7 percent in each of the prior two weeks.

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