The housing market, which is facing challenges with mortgage rates, affordability, prices and inventory, hasn’t been this purchase-dominant in decades, according to Black Knight’s originations market monitor report.
Today, nearly nine out of every 10 mortgages originated is a purchase loan, the report notes.
Last month, purchase locks accounted for 88% of the market mix, marking a record high. Rate lock activity was up 14% in May, but the bulk of the increase is attributed to the month having two more business days than April, according to Black Knight.
Adjusting for the difference, daily volume was up just 4% compared to April.
Purchase locks were up almost 15%, however, and cash-out refinances increased 7%, according to the report. Rate/term refinance locks also climbed last month, increasing 13% from April.
Overall, May was an improvement over April, but mortgage lending remains constrained.
“While rate locks on purchase loans rose from April, they also dipped to their lowest level yet relative to 2018 and 2019 averages as rates rose late in the month,” Andy Walden, vice president of enterprise research at Black Knight, said.
Purchase loans have made up the lion’s share of origination activity for much of the last year, a harbinger that both slowing home sales as well as purchase mortgage origination volumes are likely on the horizon, Walden said.
In addition, purchase lock counts were down 37% last month compared to 12 months ago, and declined 29% compared to levels seen in 2019.
The average purchase price climbed for the sixth consecutive month in May, hitting $454,000, while the average loan amount increased to $360,000.
Data showed that late in the month, more borrowers sought relief from rising fixed rates. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of lock activity in May increased to 8.41% compared to April.
Credit scores for conforming, FHA and VA borrowers also increased again in May, which is indicative of tightening credit standards in an uncertain economic environment, with purchase lock credit scores nearing record highs.
At the same time, the level of economic uncertainty in the market resulted in historically wide spreads between 10-year Treasury yields and 30-year mortgage rates, and that uncertainty appears to be trickling down to tightening credit standards across the board, the report notes.
“Uncertainty breeds a fear of risk, and that is likely driving the rises we’ve seen in down payments and credit scores among recent originations. The credit box is certainly tightening, but it’s far from the only challenge facing prospective homebuyers,” Walden said.