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Homebuying Sentiment Stabilizes After Long, Slow Slide

December 07 2022

Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) showed some signs of life in November, posting its first increase in nine months. The index, which distills answers to six questions from the company’s monthly National Housing Survey (NHS) gained 0.6 points compared to its all-time low in October. It is now at 57.3, remaining 17.4 points lower year-over-year. The two headline components of the index – consumers’ attitudes toward buying and selling a home – each increased slightly from their October levels but remained down by double digits from the same month in 2021. When asked if it was a good or a bad time to buy a home, positive answers increased by one point, but the net positive, (good time minus bad time answers) was a negative 63 percent, 28 points lower on an annual basis. The same pattern prevailed with attitudes toward selling. Good time answers rose from 51 percent to 54 percent while bad time answers declined by 3 points to 39 percent, resulting in a net positive increase of 6 points to 15 percent. This is still 38 percentage points lower than the net positive a year ago.   “Both consumer homebuying and home-selling sentiment are significantly lower than they were last year, which, in our view, is unsurprising considering mortgage rates have more than doubled and home prices remain elevated ,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Following eight months of consecutive declines, the HPSI did tick up slightly in November but is essentially unchanged since hitting its all-time low last month. Consumers continue to expect mortgage rates to rise but home prices to decline, a situation that we believe will contribute to a further slowing of home sales in the coming months, as both homebuyers and home-sellers have reason for apprehension. We expect mortgage demand to continue to be curtailed by affordability constraints , while homeowners with significantly lower-than-current mortgage rates may be discouraged from listing their property and potentially taking on a new, much higher mortgage rate.”

Mortgage Application Volume Pulls Back, Even as Rates Trend Lower

December 07 2022

Application volume the past week didn’t fully recover from the usual Thanksgiving week losses a week prior. Refinancing did improve, but purchase volume ended a four-week streak of gains . Results for the prior week had included an adjustment for the observance of the holiday. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume for the week ended December 2, decreased 1.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unadjusted Index gained 36 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index rose by 5 percent from the previous week but was 86 percent lower than the same week in 2021. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 28.7 percent of total applications from 26.1 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The Purchase Index was down 3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior week but reclaimed the 31 percent loss the preceding week on an unadjusted basis. Purchase volume is down 40 percent from the same period last year. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage applications decreased 2 percent compared to the Thanksgiving holiday-adjusted results from the previous week, even as mortgage rates continued to trend lower. Rates decreased for most loan products, with the 30-year fixed declining 8 basis points to 6.41 percent after reaching 7.16 percent in October,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “The 30-year fixed rate was

Black Knight Home Price Data at Odds With Recent FHFA Move

December 05 2022

Black Knight released its Mortgage Monitor report today--always a treasure trove of robust housing/mortgage-related data.  Of particular interest this time around is the ongoing price declines seen in Black Knight's Home Price Index (HPI)--especially as they relate to the recent FHFA HPI data that influenced new conforming loan limits. To be clear, today's HPI from Black Knight is for October whereas last week's FHFA HPI data was for September.  It's nonetheless interesting because the sort of full-fledged price rebound seen in the FHFA data (Q3 miraculously came in slightly HIGHER than Q2) is nowhere to be found in any of the other data. NOTE: FHFA's own monthly HPI data suggested declining values in Q3 but the conforming loan limit is based on expanded quarterly data which includes more lower priced homes which would indeed be less likely to show the same level of price declines as higher value homes. Disclaimers aside, the notion of higher prices in Q3 vs Q2 doesn't jive with any of the other data. The point of comparing Black Knight's latest data to FHFA is simply to illustrate the mystery can't simply be chalked up to timing.  That said, the Black Knight data agrees that price declines have begun to slow. In the month of October, the HPI fell 0.43%, but in seasonally adjusted terms, the decline was only 0.13%.  That makes October the best month since prices began declining in July.  This took the annual appreciation rate down to 9.3% (still exceptionally high) from 10.6% in September. 

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