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GSEs finance fewer loans in 2018 at midway

fannievol1H18Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bankrolled fewer single-family loans through the first half of this year compared to the first six months of 2017.

FannieCounts1H18Collectively, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) financed 1.6 million home-purchase mortgages and refinances in the January-through-June period, the agencies reported. That was down 9 percent from 1.76 million loans in the first half of 2017.

FreddieVol1H18Through the first half of 2018, Fannie Mae’s loan counts fell 10.5 percent to 961,000 and its volume declined by 7.1 percent to $222.7 billion, compared to the same period in 2017.

FreddieCountsH118Freddie’s single-family mortgage counts were off 6.9 percent to 644,000. Volume declined by 5.7 percent to $150 billion.

The GSEs don’t lend directly to borrowers, but provide roughly half of the liquidity in the single-family mortgage market by purchasing conventional loans from lenders and then packaging most of them into mortgage-backed securities.

First-half GSE activity dropped for the second consecutive year. The lower numbers were caused by another big drop in refinancing.

Freddie’s refinancing counts through June stood at 245,000, down 28 percent compared to the first six months of 2017. Fannie acquired 411,000 refinanced loans in the first six months of the year, down 22 percent compared to the same period in 2017.

Freddie gains ground on purchase side

On the home-purchase side, the results were mixed. Freddie’s home-purchase acquisitions totaled 399,000 in the first six months of 2018, up 14 percent compared to the first half of 2017. Fannie’s counts were flat at the midyear point, compared to 2017, with 550,000 home-purchase mortgage acquisitions.

Notably, Fannie acquired 6 percent fewer home-purchase loans (298,000) this past second quarter than it did in the second quarter of 2017 (316,000 loans). By contrast, Freddie ramped up its activity this past quarter on the home-purchase side. Freddie acquired 241,000 purchase loans in the second quarter, up 27 percent over its second-quarter 2017 figure of 189,000 mortgages.

The GSEs' first-half numbers are in line with general mortgage trends and forecasts. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicted in July that overall single-family origination volumes will clock in at about $1.6 trillion for 2018, down 5.7 percent compared to 2017, and largely driven by a 23 percent decline in refinance volume.

Demand for single-family mortgages has been falling of late. Mortgage applications declined for three consecutive weeks through Aug. 3, according to MBA. The trade group's index charting refinancing activity also fell to its lowest level in nearly 18 years for the week ending on Aug. 3, and purchase activity ran 2 percent lower than a year earlier.

"Despite recent data indicating a strong U.S. economy and job market, including signs of wage growth, overall mortgage applications fell for the third straight week as housing continues to be hampered by the lack of homes for sale and crimped affordability," said Joel Kan, MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. He noted that the key 30-year fixed mortgage rate has also been hovering at a six-week high of 4.84 percent. 


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