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Mortgage applications for new homes fall in October

Mortgage-application activity for new-home purchases in 2018 has generally run ahead of the pace in 2017 this year, one of the bright spots in an otherwise sluggish housing market. October's data sent off mixed signals, however, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). 

New-home purchase applications declined 2.1 percent compared to the October 2017 pace, but were up by 11 percent over September without adjusting for seasonal changes. MBA estimated that new-home sales rose by 4.7 percent from the September pace to a seasonally adjusted rate of 673,000 units in October.  

On an unadjusted basis, MBA estimated 53,000 new-home sales in October, an increase of 6 percent from September. The monthly readings on new-home sales have been volatile month-to-month, however. Year-to-date through October, MBA's surveying data suggest a new-home market on an upswing. 

"While we have seen some monthly swings in new home sales in 2018, the year-to-date average sales pace is around seven percent higher than the same period in 2017," said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

The average loan size on an application for a new-home purchase has fallen to $332,000, the lowest since July 2017. This could be revealing too. 

“This is potentially a sign that there has been some additional inventory in the new home market, and that the rapid price growth in some geographies is starting to ease,” Kan said 

Conventional loans comprised 70.9 percent of loan applications; Federal Housing Administration loans, 17.1 percent; Rural Housing Service/United States Department of Agriculture loans, 0.7 percent; and Veterans Affairs loans composed 11.2 percent, the trade group said. 


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