Report Spotlights Mortgage Origination Market Struggles

According to the Residential Property Mortgage Origination Report from ATTOM Data, there were a total of 1.28 million mortgages originated during the first quarter of 2024, representating a 6.8% decline from the previous quarter. The drop-off marked the 11th in the last 12 quarters, to the lowest level since 2000. 

In addition, this number left total residential lending activity down 4.8% year-over-year, and down 69.3% from the originations peak which occurred in 2021. It came amid another period of rising mortgage interest rates and elevated home prices unaffordable to significant portions of American households, on top of low supplies of homes for sale. 

According to ATTOM, ongoing decreases in lending activity during the first quarter resulted from losses in all major categories of residential lending. Purchase-loan activity went down another 9.9% quarterly, to about 565,000, while refinance deals dipped downward by 1.9%, to 491,000. Home-equity credit lines slipped 9%, to 222,000. 

In dollars, lenders issued $405.6 billion worth of residential mortgages in the first quarter of 2024; this number was down 4.8% from the fourth quarter of 2023 and 4.5% from the first quarter of last year. 

ATTOM further stated that varying paces of change among different loan types helped reduce the portion of all residential mortgages represented by purchase lending for the third straight quarter while pushing the refinance component upward. Yet, purchase loans were the most common form of mortgages in the country during the first quarter, comprising over 40%, followed by refinance packages, and home-equity lending. 

“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,” said Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM. “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.” 

Home-mortgage lending took another hit in the early months of 2024 as average interest rates for 30-year fixed loans rose close to 7% (it has since increased). That continued to push up home ownership costs at a time when near-record home prices in most of the country already were unaffordable, or a significant financial stretch, for average wage earners. Purchase lending was further eroded amid counts of homes for sale that were less than half the levels seen five years ago. 

Click here to view the report in its entirety. 

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Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for MortgagePoint. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at kyle.horst@thefivestar.com.
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