Mortgage applications for purchases of new homes fell again in December, but an early estimate projects actual sales numbers held steady from November.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Thursday that applications for new home purchases fell 0.4 percent month-over-month in December. The survey results, which are based on application data from mortgage operations of homebuilders, don't include any seasonal adjustments.
Despite the drop in applications, MBA estimates that new home sales in December came to an unadjusted 28,000, flat from November, while the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate moved up 2 percent to 409,000.
Joel Kan, associate VP of industry surveys and forecasting for the group, explained that the sales data also includes estimates for all-cash transactions.
The Commerce Department estimated last month that new home sales in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 438,000, coming in between economic projections of 460,000 and MBA's prediction of 401,000.
The government's estimate for December new home sales, due January 27, will include a revision for November. Though the methodology between the government's reading and MBA's estimate is different, revisions in the last year have tended to be for the worse.
On a brighter note, MBA projects that sales in January and February will lift slightly as the housing market comes out of the annual holiday slowdown.
"We had a low point, so any amount of activity will show up as a gain, but you have to start somewhere," Kan said.
Conventional loans made up 70.8 percent of new home purchase applications in December, MBA reported, up from 69.3 percent in November. Loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accounted for 15.3 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively, each down from the last survey.
The average loan size for new homes last month was up to $311,398, meanwhile, a more than $4,400 dollar increase from November.