MortgageReal Estate

Mixed mortgage news: Refis fall to four-year low, but purchases climb sharply

Total originations actually rise 15% in second quarter

[Update: Due to errors in the data provided by ATTOM Data Solutions, this article and its headline have been altered from the previous version. The article is now correct, based on new data provided by ATTOM.]

The signs were all there. It was clear that refinance originations were trending down as interest rates rose, but it’s still striking to see the results in black and white.

According to newly released data from ATTOM Data Solutions, refinance originations fell to a four-year low during the second quarter, thanks to increases in interest rates.

ATTOM’s Q2 2018 U.S. Residential Property Loan Origination Report, released Thursday morning, shows that there were 2,087,455 residential mortgages originated in Q2 2018, up 15% from the previous quarter and up less than 1% from a year ago.

The results are bit of mixed bag, as purchase mortgages rose sharply over the previous quarter, while refis dropped to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2014.

Broken down by type, there were 926,516 purchase mortgages originated in Q2 2018, up 39% from the previous quarter and up 1% from a year ago.

There were 799,093 refis originated in Q2, down less than 1% from the previous quarter and down 2% from a year ago, falling to a nearly four-year low.

Additionally, there were 361,845 Home Equity Lines of Credit originated in Q2 2018, up 4% from the previous quarter and up 2% from a year ago to the highest level since Q3 2008.

The cause of the refi drop? Rising interest rates, as shown in recent reports from Ellie Mae and Impac Mortgage’s most recent earnings information.

“Rising mortgage rates are cooling mortgage demand across the board, with overall originations down to their lowest level since 2014 — the last time we saw more than six consecutive months with average 30-year fixed mortgage rates above 4%,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, noted.

The most recent data from Freddie Mac showed that mortgage rates were up over 4.5%. And with no real signs that rates are going to retreat anytime soon, it’s likely that this low refi environment is the new normal, for at least a couple of years.

According to the ATTOM report, ninety-nine of the 173 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report (57%) posted a year-over-year decrease in refi originations in Q2 2018, including Los Angeles, California (down 13%); Chicago, Illinois (down 5%); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (down 9%); Washington, D.C. (down 21%); and Atlanta, Georgia (down 12%).

On the other hand, seventy-four of the 173 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed in the report (43%) posted a year-over-year increase in refinance originations in Q2 2018, including New York, New York (up 17%); Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas (up 15%); Houston, Texas (up 69%); Miami, Florida (up 31%); and Boston, Massachusetts (up 23%).

Another interesting point to come out of the ATTOM report is that Federal Housing Administration loans fell to a 10-year low during the second quarter.

According to ATTOM’s data, mortgages backed by the FHA made up only 10.2% of all residential loans originated in Q2 2018, down from 10.9% in the previous quarter and down from 13.5% a year ago. That percentage is the lowest share of FHA loans since the first quarter of 2008.

The report also shows that the median down payment forked over by buyers in the second quarter reached an 18-year high.

According to ATTOM’s report, the median down payment on single-family homes and condos purchased Q2 2018 was $19,900, up 19% from $16,750 in the previous quarter and up 18% from $16,925 in Q2 2017.

That’s a new record high going back as far data is available — Q1 2000.

ATTOM’s report also showed that the median down payment in the second quarter represented 7.6% of the median sales price, up from 6.6% in both the previous quarter and in Q2 2017, rising to the highest level since Q3 2003 — a nearly 15-year high.

However, that national median down payment is a mere pittance compared to the markets with the highest median down payments: San Jose, California ($306,000); San Francisco, California ($220,000); Los Angeles, California ($130,000); Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California ($115,400); and Boulder, Colorado ($107,750).

ATTOM’s loan origination report is derived from publicly recorded mortgages and deeds of trust collected by ATTOM in more than 1,700 counties, accounting for more than 87% of the U.S. population.

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