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Cool Down: New Home Mortgage Applications Decline

application [1]In the last month of 2015, applications for new home purchases took a chill pill and decreased month-over-month. Could this be what economists meant by slow growth headed into 2016?

Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association [2]'s (MBA) Builder Application Survey [3] (BAS) shows that new home mortgage applications fell by 5 percent in December 2015.

"The BAS showed mixed-results last month with some lenders seeing steady or slightly increasing application levels while others saw declines," said Lynn Fisher, MBA's VP of Research and Economics. "On net, we estimate that new single-family home sales were down by about 8 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis relative to November, but remain 17 percent above a year ago."

Conventional loans made up 68.0 percent of loan applications, FHA loans composed 18.5 percent, RHS/USDA loans occupied 1.0 percent, and VA loans composed 12.6 percent. According to the MBA data, the average loan size of new homes increased from $320,854 in November to $333,182 in December.

Data from the BAS estimates new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 480,000 units in December 2015. The seasonally adjusted estimate for December is a decrease of 8.4 percent from the November pace of 524,000 units.  the MBA estimates that there were 34,000 new home sales in December 2015 on an unadjusted basis, down 8.1 percent from 37,000 new home sales in November.

In addition, the MBA reported that mortgage applications increased [4]9.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from their Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 15, 2015.

On an unadjusted basis, the Index fell 12 percent from last week, the MBA found. The Refinance Index rose 19 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 2 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 4 percent compared with the previous week and was 17 percent higher than the same week one year ago.