US mortgage lending enjoys biggest jump in seven years

Photo:   Fifth World Art

Mortgage applications increased 49.1 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) for the week ending 9th January, the biggest weekly gain since November 2008.

“Mortgage rates reached their lowest level since May of 2013, and refinance application volume soared, more than doubling on an unadjusted basis, and up 66 percent after adjusting for the fact that the previous week included the New Year’s holiday,” explains  Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist.

“Conventional refinance volume increased to a greater extent than government refinance volume.  Applications for larger refinance loans increased more than 4 times relative to the previous week.  The average conventional refinance application increased to $298,700 from $233,500 the prior week.  Although there was a somewhat smaller increase for government refinance volume, VA refinance applications increased by 50 percent.  VA loans tend to be larger than FHA and USDA loans, and hence are more responsive to a given rate change.”

“In addition to the drop in rates, and news of improvement in the job market, there was additional positive news for prospective homebuyers with evidence that credit availability has increased somewhat, and with FHA’s announcement of a decrease in their mortgage insurance premiums. Purchase application volume increased by almost 24 percent, with stronger growth for conventional applications than for government loans. Purchase application volume was at its highest level since September 2013, increased on a year over year basis in the aggregate, and notably increased across most loan size categories, particularly for the conforming, middle of the market loan segments that had been weak for much of the past year.”

The figures add to a positive sentiment in the US property market at the start of year, with sales expected to climb, even as the market moderates.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, comments: “With rents now rising at a seven-year high, historically low rates and moderating price growth are likely to entice more buyers to enter the market in upcoming months.”