Mortgage application activity bounced back from the holiday-shortened prior week but is still running significantly below historic levels. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of application volume, increased 5.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis during the week ended September 15. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 16 percent compared with the week that started with Labor Day. The Refinance Index rose 13 percent week-over-week and was 29 percent lower than the same week in 2022. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 31.6 percent of total applications from 29.1 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index gained 2.0 percent compared to the prior week. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 12 percent and was 26 percent lower than the same week one year ago. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage applications increased last week, despite the 30-year fixed rate edging back up to 7.31 percent – its highest level in four weeks,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Purchase applications increased for conventional and FHA loans over the week but remained 26 percent lower than the same week a year ago, as homebuyers continue to face higher rates and limited for-sale inventory , which have made purchase conditions more challenging. Refinance applications also increased last week but are still almost 30 percent lower than the same week last year.”
Results of the August Residential Construction report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development were decidedly mixed. While permits were issued at a rate higher than anticipated, housing starts sunk to the lowest level since June 2020, Construction was started on residential units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.283 million, an 11.3 percent decline from the July level of 1.447 million units. Further, the earlier results represent a downward revision from the original estimate of 1.452 million. Both Econoday and Trading Economics had consensus forecasts of 1.44 million units. Starts were 14.8 percent lower than in August 2022. Single-family starts were down 4.3 percent from July to an annual rate of 941,000. This, however, was 2.3 percent higher than the level a year prior. Multifamily starts plunged 26.3 percent month-over-month and 41.0 percent on an annual basis to a rate of 334,000 units. Permits for residential construction rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.543 million units, a 6.9 percent increase from the 1.443 million rate in July and the highest level in ten months. Permits were, however, still down 2.7 percent on an annual basis. The number was about 100,000 units higher than consensus estimates. Construction permits were issued for 949,000 single-family homes on an annualized basis, a 2.0 percent increase from July and 7.2 percent more than a year earlier. Multifamily permits were 14.8 percent higher than the prior month but, at an annualized 535,000 units, down 17.7 percent from August 2022.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said on Monday that its index that measures home builder confidence in the new home market has fallen below the halfway mark for the first time since April. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index declined 5 points in December. Coupled with its 6-point drop in August, the index has erased five months of gains. NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz said, “The two-month decline in builder sentiment coincides with when mortgage rates jumped above 7 percent and significantly eroded buyer purchasing power. And on the supply-side front, builders continue to grapple with shortages of construction workers, buildable lots and distribution transformers , which is further adding to housing affordability woes. Insurance cost and availability is also a growing concern for the housing sector.” Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 35 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. All three major HMI indices posted declines in September and two of the three are now below the break-even point. The HMI indices gauging current sales conditions and those over the next six months each fell 6 points to 51 and 49 respectively. The component measuring traffic prospective buyer traffic was down 5 points to 30.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said the volume of mortgage applications dipped slightly during the week ended September 8. MBA said its Market Composite Index, a measure of that volume, decreased 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index dropped 12 percent during the week, which was shortened by the Labor Day holiday. The Refinance Index declined 5 percent week-over-week and was 31 percent lower than the same week in 2022. The refinance share of mortgage activity was 29.1 percent compared to 30.0 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index rose 1 percent but fell 11 percent before adjustment. Activity was 27 percent lower than the same week one year ago. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage applications decreased for the seventh time in eight weeks, reaching the lowest level since 1996 ” according to d Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Last week’s decline driven by a 5 percent drop in refinance applications to the weakest reading since January 2023. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to 7.27 percent last week and was 40 basis points higher than where it was in late July. Purchase applications increased over the week despite the increase in rates, pushed higher by a 2 percent gain in conventional loans. Given how high rates are right now, there continues to be minimal refinance activity and a reduced incentive for homeowners to sell and buy a new home at a higher rate .”
A powerful hurricane and an approaching three-day weekend may have offset the impact of an improvement in interest rates during the week ended September 1. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, failed to extend its first increase since mid-July into a second week. The Index decreased 2.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and 5.0 percent before adjustment. The Refinance Index decreased 5 percent from the previous week and was 30 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity dipped to 30.0 percent of total applications from 30.1 percent. [refiappschart] The Purchase Index was down 2.0 percent and 5.0 percent on seasonally adjusted and unadjusted bases compared to the previous week. It was 28 percent lower than the same week one year ago. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage applications declined to the lowest level since December 1996, despite a drop in mortgage rates. Both purchase and refinance applications fell, with the purchase index hitting a 28-year low, as prospective buyers remain on the sidelines due to low housing inventory and elevated mortgage rates,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “The 30-year fixed mortgage rate decreased to 7.21 percent last week, but rates remained more than a full percentage point higher than a year ago, despite mixed data on the health of the economy and signs of a cooling job market. The refinance index dropped to its lowest level since January 2023, driven by a 6 percent decline in conventional refinances.”
After falling for five straight weeks, mortgage applications finally gained a little ground last week. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said its seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 2.3 percent during the week ended August 25 and was 1 percent higher before adjustment. The Refinance Index was up 3 percent week-over-week although it still lags August 2022 levels by 28 percent. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 30.1 percent of total applications from 29.5 percent the previous week. It was the largest share for refinancing since mid-February. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index rose 2 percent and eked out a 0.3 percent gain before adjustment. Purchasing was 27 percent lower than a year earlier. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage rates were mostly unchanged last week, with the 30-year fixed rate remaining at 7.31 percent – the highest since December 2000. Treasury yields peaked early in the week and did move lower by the end, which may have spurred some activity,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Mortgage applications for home purchases and refinances increased for the first time in five weeks but remained at low levels. Purchase applications increased but were still 27 percent lower than a year ago, as elevated mortgage rates and tight housing inventory continue to weigh on home buying activity. ”
Sales of newly constructed homes appear to be benefitting from the very lack of inventory that is stifling existing home sales. July’s sales of pre-owned homes lagged sales a year earlier by more than 16 percent while Wednesday’s report on new home sales showed they had jumped ahead of July 2022 activity by 31.5 percent. The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development said new home sales were at an annual rate of 714,000 units in July. This is an increase of 4.4 percent compared to sales in June. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, there were 59,000 homes sold, 1,000 more than in June. So far in 2023 sales total 416,000, essentially unchanged from the same period in 2022. Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders said, “New home sales were solid in July because of an ongoing housing deficit in the U.S. and a lack of resales stemming from many homeowners electing to stay put to preserve their low mortgage rates. However, despite this monthly uptick, new home sales will likely weaken in August as higher interest rates price out prospective buyers.” While inventory of new homes fell 2.7 percent from June to July and by 27.7 percent year-over-year, there were 437,000 new homes available for sale at the end of the reporting period. This is a 7.3-month supply at the current sales pace. A six-month supply is generally considered a balanced market.
Mortgage interest rates rose again last week, reaching the highest level in nearly a quarter century and further sidelining mortgage borrowers. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported that its Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, declined 4.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier and was 6 percent lower before adjustment. The Refinance Index decreased 3 percent from the previous week and was 35 percent lower than the same week one year ago although the refinance share of mortgage activity ticked up to 29.5 percent from 28.6 percent a week earlier. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was down 5 percent and the unadjusted version lost 7 percent compared with the previous week. Purchase applications were 30 percent lower than the same week one year ago. [purchaseappschart] “Treasury yields continued to spike last week as markets grappled with illiquidity and concerns that the resilient economy will keep inflation stubbornly high. This spike pushed mortgage rates higher last week, with the 30-year fixed rate increasing to 7.31 percent – the highest level since December 2000 ,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Applications for home purchase mortgages dropped to their lowest level since April 1995, as homebuyers withdrew from the market due to the elevated rate environment and the erosion of purchasing power. Low housing supply is also keeping home prices high in many markets, adding to the affordability hurdles buyers are facing.”
Sales of existing homes slipped in July even as median prices sustained their record-high levels. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said the month’s sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperative apartments were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.07 million units, down 2.2 percent compared to June and 16.6 percent lower than in in the same month in 2022. Single-family home sales slid to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.65 million, a 1.9 percent month-over-month decline and down 16.3 percent from the previous year. Condo and co-op sales slipped 4.5 percent to 420,000 annual units: 19.2 percent fewer than a year earlier. [existinghomesdata] The median existing-home price for all housing types in July was $406,700, a 1.9 percent annual increase . NAR said It was the fourth time the monthly median sales price had exceeded $400,000 since it started keeping records. Previous such prices were logged in June 2023 ($410,000), and in both May and June of last year at $408,600 and $413,800, respectively. The median existing single-family home price was $412,300 in July, up 1.6 percent year-over-year, while condo prices rose 4.5 percent to a median of $357,600. [existinghomeprices] There were 1.11 million housing units available for sale at the end of July, an estimated 3.3-month supply at the current sales pace. This is an increase of 3.7 percent from the end of June when there was a 3.1-month supply but 14.6 percent below total inventory in July 2022.
Increased mortgage rates continued to damp down both purchase and refinance activity during the week ended August 11. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior week and declined by 2 percent before seasonal adjustment. The Refinance Index fell 2 percent and was 35 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 28.6 percent of total applications from 28.7 percent week-over-week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was unchanged from the prior week and slid 2 percent on an unadjusted basis. Purchases were 26 percent lower than during the same week in 2022. [purchaseappschart] “Treasury rates were elevated again last week following mixed data on inflation and more indication of resiliency in the economy, which may pose a challenge to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to lower inflation. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased for the third straight week, reaching 7.16 percent, matching October 2022’s rate and the highest rate since 2001 ,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Overall applications decreased because of these higher rates, as both purchase and refinance applications ended the week at their lowest levels since February 2023. Government purchase applications provided a bright spot, increasing 2.4 percent over the week, driven by increases in both FHA and VA purchase categories. The ARM share of applications rose slightly to 7 percent, the highest since April 2023, as borrowers look[ed] for relief from higher fixed rates.”