Sam Gendusa December 11, 2019

Newsletter - October 2019

Last month, Fannie Mae increased its mortgage origination forecast to $2.04 trillion — 3.4% higher than the month prior.

In fact, the GSE has increased its forecast by an average of 3.6% every month since April, according to HousingWire calculations. The latest forecast would make 2019 the best year since 2016.

And according to Freddie Mac data, the November forecast just needs to go up by 0.7% to make 2019 the best year since 2007 — when $2.31 trillion was lent.

What’s behind the boost?

You guessed it: Falling mortgage interest rates.

In January of this year, the average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.46%. In September, it was 3.61%.

That means that compared to a year ago, the average borrower taking out a $300,000 mortgage will spend about $225 less on their monthly payment (a savings of $2,700 per year).

"You can’t beat a good rate, especially with the speculating of a pending bubble burst. I think now is a good time to get in if you’re looking to purchase a property," real estate investor Andrew Hughes told CNBC.

The uptick has been especially pronounced among refinances, as homeowners take advantage of the opportunity to save on their monthly mortgage payments. Fannie Mae’s forecast last month increased the refinancing share 2% from September to 37% (up from a predicted 26% in January).

"As seen a few times this year, the large drop in rates caused another surge in refinance applications. The refinance index increased 10 percent to its highest level since late August, with both conventional and government refinances experiencing an upswing," said Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Homebuilders have also seen a jump in sales. "The market for new homes has been improving from last year’s pause, as lower interest rates have stimulated demand and improved affordability, while the overall fundamentals of the economy have remained strong," said Stuart Miller, executive chairman of Lennar Homes.

"I know that there is a lot of question about upcoming potential recession and things like that. Our customers don’t seem to be viewing it that way," he continued. "I think that the housing market in general seems solid and strong and continuing to improve."

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