Attom: Mortgage activity hits lowest level since 2000 during first quarter

Residential lending has slid 11 times in last 12 quarters, per Attom data

Some 1.28 million mortgages secured by residential properties with four units or less were issued nationwide during the first quarter, down 6.8% from the previous three-month period, according to Attom.

Per the real estate data company’s 2024 U.S. Residential Property Mortgage Origination Report, that’s the 11th dip in the last 12 quarters, bringing the count of mortgages issued to its lowest level since the new millennium began.

Moreover, total residential lending activity is down 4.8% annually and 69.3% from the peak reached in 2021.

Every major category of residential lending suffered during the first quarter. Purchase loan activity was down 9.9% quarter over quarter to fall to a count of about 565,000 loans, while refinances slipped 1.9% to roughly 491,000 loans. Home equity credit lines dropped 9% from the previous quarter to fall to some 222,000 transactions.

Purchase loans still make up the largest share of total mortgages at more than 40%, but that share has ebbed since purchase loans decreased by more than four times the rate of refis over the first three months of the year. It’s the third straight quarter that purchase market share among all total mortgages has dropped, according to Attom’s data. Meanwhile, refinances, while gaining share, remain vastly below their peak of more than 2.7 million transactions in early 2021, when historically low, sub-3% mortgage rates led to a surge in refi lending.

Dollar volumes were down as well. There were $405.6 billion in residential mortgages issued during Q1 2024, a decrease of 4.8% from Q4 2023 and 4.5% from Q1 2023. The first quarter’s dollar volume total was less than a third of the recent quarterly high of $1.29 trillion, reached during the pandemic homebuying boom in 2021.

Rob Barber, CEO of Attom, was cautiously optimistic that the second quarter of the 2024 would follow last year’s suit and bring somewhat of a rebound — somewhat.

“There is reason to hope that we will see something of a turnaround when second-quarter data comes in, given the jump in lending activity that happened during the peak home-buying season of 2023,” he said. “But with little sign that interest rates are coming down, which could fire up refinance and HELOC lending, or that supplies of homes for sale are going up, any increase is likely to be limited.”


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