Recent news out of the home finance industry has been rather sombre.
The results of a survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed that mortgage applications declined 7.2% in the week ending September 5, 2014 compared to the preceding week, as measured by the Market Composite Index which tracks mortgage loan application volume. On a seasonally adjusted basis this index was down 7.2% versus the previous week, and touched its lowest level since December 2000.
The above chart, courtesy of Mortgage News Daily, plots the Market Composite Index versus the 30 Year Fixed Mortgage. Note that mortgage volume as evidenced by the index has trended inversely to the 30 Year Fixed from 2010 through mid-2013. Subsequently, however, both have tended down as shown by the red arrows. That could be partly explained by the fall in refinance volumes, but other factors are probably at work, judging from a recent survey result from Fannie Mae.
“The August National Housing Survey results lend support to our forecast that 2015 will likely not be a breakout year for housing,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae / Federal National Mortgage Assctn Fnni Me (OTCBB:FNMA). “The deterioration in consumer attitudes about the current home buying environment reflects a shift away from record home purchase affordability without enough momentum in consumer personal financial sentiment to compensate for it. To date, this year’s labor market strength has not translated into sufficient income gains to inspire confidence among consumers to purchase a home, even in the current favorable interest rate environment.”
As a result, total home sales during 2014 may actually turn out to be lower than they were in 2013, primarily due to a weak performance the first half of the year.