Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses mortgage purchase applications.

  • Mortgage applications to buy a home rose for the third straight week after accounting for the normal seasonal patterns. However, this data point implies no measurable pick up in home sales over the past 12 months, contrary to actual rising home sales figures from MLSes. The reason is due to the fact that mortgage applications data has no information about  approval rates and it misses out completely on all-cash deals, which have represented about one-third of home sales in the past year.
  • Even though the mortgage data should be taken with a grain of salt, the rising weekly trend is encouraging in that owner-occupant buyers (as opposed to all-cash investors) may be steadily returning to the market.
  • Refinancing activity held steady over the past week and is comfortably above last year’s figures. However, mortgage bankers may need to mindful of a possible near collapse in the refinancing business by the year-end or early next year when mortgage rates rise. The only source of mortgage business will be from home purchases. Banks, therefore, will need to think of reallocating staff time to focus on home purchase mortgages rather than refinance applications.

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