On Wednesday, purchase application data confirmed a full V-shaped recovery in the housing market.
I wanted to see four straight weeks of double-digit year over year growth before I officially used the term “V-Shaped Recovery”, because that proves a continuation of the trend in purchase applications from the time B.C. (Before Coronavirus).
We achieved that in spades.
This has been the hottest four-week period of double-digit growth we have seen in a while when compared to the same time last year.
The MBA report shows the year over year growth for the last four weeks has been +18%, +13%,+21% and +18%, the highest 4-week moving average for 2020.
Even though there was a massive delay in housing activity due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, total volumes in purchase applications will decrease in the coming months due to seasonality. Going forward (June to January), expect total volumes to fall but always focus on the year-over-year data to account for the trending demand. The last existing home sales report showed an increase in monthly supply, so we have enough homes out there to see a rebound in sales, should the demand be there for it.
While this data looks good for housing it is important not to overhype it. We still have a virus infecting and killing Americans every day. We have high unemployment rates, and many sectors of our economy, while bouncing off the deep lows, aren’t anywhere close to the levels we had in January and February of 2020.
I will be happy to see single-digit, positive year-over-year growth in purchase application data for the rest of the year. These higher levels of year over year growth most likely can’t continue. However, it’s always critical that we see flat to positive growth in purchase application data. We have seen how existing-home sales look like when we are down between -20% to -35% year over year.
Refinance applications were down 11.7% week to week but up 76.2% from a year ago. As more folks refinance, the supply of loans that can refinance decreases. Even a 0.25% move higher in rates can shut down a lot of the potential supply of loans for possible refinances.
The mortgage market meltdown in March of this year and the resulting increase in rates created a massive number of loans in the pipeline that couldn’t get locked. Rates came back down and those loans were able to close.
Surveys may show that millions of Americans can always refinance, but it is only when rates drive lower that the homeowner feels the need to go through the process of refinancing. Unless rates go lower from where they are now, the demand for refinancing will be softer working from a heated marketplace.
In a terrible year, Wednesday was a good day for the U.S. housing market. Some sectors of the economy are showing a recovery.
But we still have a lot of work to do.