Based on the Mortgage Bankers Association's newly released Builder Application Survey for March 2019, U.S. mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 7 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to February 2019, applications increased by 19 percent. This change does not include any adjustment for typical seasonal patterns.
"With a strong job market, rising wages and lower mortgage rates, housing demand remains strong, as shown by the solid 7 percent growth in new home purchase applications in March," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. "The confluence of declining mortgage rates with the spring buying season is supporting stronger housing demand and activity. Additionally, the drop in average loan size suggests that builders are tilting production to lower-priced homes, which continues to see the tightest inventories and strongest home-price growth."
MBA estimates new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000 units in March 2019, based on data from the BAS. The new home sales estimate is derived using mortgage application information from the BAS, as well as assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors.
The seasonally adjusted estimate for March is a decrease of 2 percent from the February pace of 690,000 units. On an unadjusted basis, MBA estimates that there were 66,000 new home sales in March 2019, an increase of 11.9 percent from 59,000 new home sales in February.
By product type, conventional loans composed 68.7 percent of loan applications, FHA loans composed 18.8 percent, RHS/USDA loans composed 0.5 percent and VA loans composed 12 percent. The average loan size of new homes decreased from $340,692 in February to $331,794 in March.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 31, 2019, U.S. mortgage applications increased 1.5 percent from one week earlier. This week's results included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.
U.S. pending home sales declined in April 2019, a modest change from the growth seen a month before. Only one of the four major regions - the Midwest - experienced growth, while the remaining three regions reported a drop in their respective contract activity.