The Mortgage Bankers Association reported This Week in Real Estate that the market to open the new decade was the strongest January for purchase mortgage applications since 2009. In addition, the streak of U.S. job gains was pushed to 112 consecutive months. Below are a few highlights from the second week of February that influence our business:
Homebuying Season Definitely Started Early This Year. Typically, spring homebuying season starts in earnest as the calendar ticks toward March, but homebuyers are seemingly getting an earlier start this year. A new report from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that spring homebuying season officially began in January this year. According to the MBA, January 2020 was the strongest January for purchase mortgage applications in 11 years. And the increase in mortgage applications has continued into February. The report also showed that mortgage applications rose 1.1% in the last week from one week prior, marking the third consecutive week of increases, according to a seasonally adjusted index from the MBA.
The Longest Job Boom Ever is Exactly What Housing Needed. Last week the U.S. added one more stable jobs report to the streak of 112 straight months of job gains. This is the fertile economic ground to which the most massive demographic patch of 26 to 32-year-olds will come into “home-buying age.” Currently, the median first-time homebuyer age is 33. The longest economic and job expansion ever recorded in history has facilitated an excellent backdrop to go into 2020-2024 with a healthy dose of first-time buyers coming into the marketplace.
Boom: Mortgage Lending Just Had its Biggest Quarter in 14 Years. A first look at the lending data for the fourth quarter from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that mortgage lending just experienced its biggest quarter in 14 years. According to the New York Fed, there were more than $750 billion in new mortgages originated in the last three months of 2019, more than in any quarter since the fourth quarter of 2005. As the Fed data shows, mortgage originations rose in each quarter of 2019, rising from $344 billion in the first quarter to $474 billion in the second quarter to $528 billion in the third quarter, and finally to $752 billion in the fourth quarter. Add all those figures up and it means that the full year origination volume for 2019 was approximately $2.1 trillion. That’s well above the latest forecast from the Mortgage Bankers Association, which suggested that lending would hit $2.07 trillion in 2019. That figure would have been a 12-year high, and the actual lending total was even higher than that.
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