Freddie Mac has released its quarterly forecast for the beginning of 2020’s fourth quarter, bumping its projection of total originations for the year to $3.6 trillion.
That’s up from the $2.9 trillion forecast by the government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) in its last quarterly forecast, released in mid-June. Freddie adjusted its full-year projection upward as volumes grew for many lenders over the last several months, driven by homeowners and homebuyers alike taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates.
“Even as the economy faces challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, the housing market has been showing strength,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater. “Refinance activity is solid and homebuyer demand continues, resulting in increased sales and an acceleration in house price growth.”
Purchase and refinance originations are anticipated for the full year at $1.4 trillion and $2.2 trillion, respectively. For the third quarter of 2020, Freddie expects total originations to reach $1.1 trillion, with purchase originations at $444 billion and refi originations at $670 billion.
As for 2021, Freddie predicts a decrease of total originations to $2.7 trillion, with $1.4 trillion of purchase originations and $1.2 trillion of refinances, reflecting the end of the refi boom as the pool of refi candidates declines.
With total sales on the uptick in both the new and existing-home segments, Freddie expects total annual sales to reach 6.2 million in 2020. While construction has bounced back, however, Freddie anticipates that the COVID-induced slowdown in building that occurred in the spring and early summer of 2020 will mean fewer new homes available to buy next year. Because of this, the GSE expects a slight home sales retreat in 2021, backtracking to 6.1 million homes sold for the year.
Meanwhile, persistent inventory woes have already affected home prices this year, and Freddie expects the acceleration in price growth to continue. Home prices are forecast to climb 2.4% quarter over quarter from July to September this year. Over the full year, Freddie is predicting home price growth of 5.5%, before that figure moderates back to 2.6% in 2021.
Mortgage rates are expected to remain flat, considering the lasting weakness in the national economy and the Federal Reserve’s subsequent indications that it will hold its policy rate low until inflation picks up. Freddie looks for mortgage rates to remain constant at around 3.0% from the third quarter of 2020 through the end of 2021, with 2020 ending the year with an average 30-year mortgage rate of 3.2%.