With the start of a new year, the real estate market’s behavior has been akin to a series of unpredictable plot twists. What contrarian move lies ahead: a deep freeze or a shift to a sizzling hot market? Currently, a fresh batch of data has lit the sparkler on an enigmatic conundrum.
Undoubtedly, we’ve had a taste of suspense, drama, and comedy in the real estate movie this year, yet the end is nowhere in sight. So, let’s pull our chairs a little closer and discuss the real estate market’s narrative of plot twists and unravel what’s behind the curtain.
Here are three key points.
Applications Then Dips, Then Peak
Actual data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) contradicted a recent humorous headline that claimed a significant jump in mortgage demand at the beginning of the year. The truth is, an examination shows a different narrative.
According to the MBA, there was indeed an uptick in mortgage applications to purchase a home for the week ending January 5th, a 6% increase from the preceding week. But that’s not the full story – this was after an abysmal fall from the week before the holidays. The number had not even regained its pre-holiday levels. Moreover, it was an underwhelming scene compared to the same periods in previous years, with reductions of 16%, 48%, 56% and 42% respectively for the years 2023, 2022, 2021, and 2019. So, the picture isn’t as rosy as one headline would have you believe.
Refinancing in the Doldrums
The refinance market is another story entirely. Even though there was a slightly detectable heartbeat in mortgage applications to refinance an existing mortgage in the recent week, the numbers were almost negligible compared to the previous years. The refinance applications were down by a shocking 81% compared to the same week in 2022, and an even steeper 91% compared to 2021.
Rising mortgage rates would naturally deter anyone from refinancing a nominal rate of 3% with a startling figure of 6.7%. This natural reaction has resulted in a decline in the refinance market and a subsequent downsizing in the mortgage industry.
Dancing Mortgage Rates
Although mortgage rates have taken a tumble recently, they have not reached the seductive charm that could potentially revive the housing market from its icy retreat. The latest figures from the MBA state that the average conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose slightly from 6.76% to 6.81%. Compared to a year ago, it’s a paginated rise by 40 basis points.
To quote a popular expression, the real estate market, at the moment, is on thin ice. The dream of lower mortgage rates seems to be freezing the current market, as potential buyers await a further drop to a more inviting rate. It’s an economic gamble, as the housing market has numerous influences, and this standoff between buyers and sellers may only continue to perpetuate the cold real estate market trend.
Now more than ever, keen observation, patience, and mindful decision-making is necessary for anyone invested in or eyeing the real estate market. It’s no Hollywood movie, but it sure adds some drama to the financial headlines. As in any suspenseful thriller, only time will reveal the next plot twist.
Final thought: just as in the movie business, the best advice is probably “expect the unexpected.”