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October saw contracts to purchase existing homes fall for the fifth straight month. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) lost another 4.6 percent during the month, declining from 79.5 in September to 77.1. This is 37.0 percent lower than its reading in October 2021 when it hit a recent peak of 125.2. It has posted only one increase (0.7 percent) since then. [pendinghomesdata] “October was a difficult month for home buyers as they faced 20-year-high mortgage rates,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The West region, in particular, suffered from the combination of high interest rates and expensive home prices. Only the Midwest squeaked out a gain. The upcoming months should see a return of buyers , as mortgage rates appear to have already peaked and have been coming down since mid-November.” Contract signings were lower in three of the four major regions compared to the prior month. They were significantly lower in all four regions on an annual basis. The index for the Northeast lost 4.3 percent from its September level. At 68.7, it was 29.5 percent lower than a year earlier. The Midwest index rose 3.3 percent to 83.5 but has declined 32.1 percent since October 2021. The South’s reading, 90.6, was 6.4 percent lower for the month and down 38.2 percent from the prior year. The PHSI in the West sank 11.3 percent to 55.6. This was down 46.2 percent year-over-year.
Thanksgiving had its usual effect on the mortgage market during the week ended November 25, although the third week of easing interest rates helped move the volume of purchase mortgage applications higher. The Mortgage Brokers Association (MBA) said its Market Composite Index, a measure of application volume, decreased 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior week. Results were adjusted to account for the holiday-shortened week. The unadjusted index dropped by 33 percent. The Refinance Index decreased 13 percent from the previous week and was 86 percent lower than the same week one year ago. Applications for refinancing constituted 26.1 percent of the total, down from 28.4 percent the previous week. [refiappschart] The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index gained ground for the fourth straight week , increasing 4 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index was 31 percent lower than the prior week and down 41 percent year-over-year. [purchaseappschart] “Mortgage rates declined again last week, following bond yields lower. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate decreased to 6.49 percent and has now fallen 57 basis points over the past four weeks,” Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist said. Additionally, mortgage rates for most other loan types declined,” “The economy here and abroad is weakening, which should lead to slower inflation and allow the Fed to slow the pace of rate hikes,” he continued. “Purchase activity increased slightly after adjusting for the Thanksgiving holiday, but the decline in rates was still not enough to bring back refinance activity. Refinance applications fell another 13 percent, and the refinance share of applications was at 26 percent. Both measures were at their lowest levels since 2000.”
If you're just here for the conforming loan limit news, $726,200 is the number for 2023. Does this mean no one can get a mortgage for more than $726,200? No. The conforming loan limit is the maximum amount that can be guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored enterprises or GSEs). That guarantee has advantages in terms of the loan approval process and interest rates. There are plenty of mortgage options for higher amounts or that are not guaranteed by the GSEs, but conforming loans account for a vast majority of new mortgages. $726,200 is the base amount. Higher cost areas have access to higher limits based on the average home prices in that area. The county by county limits are listed separately, HERE. The highest tier is $1,089,300 (base loan limit x 1.5). Where do these numbers come from? The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is the regulator of the GSEs. It publishes various home price data. Once the data is in for the 3rd quarter (typically by late November), it is compared to the 3rd quarter of the previous year and home prices are adjusted by the corresponding amount. In situations where home prices fall, the limit does not fall, but it will not rise again until home prices move back above the levels associated with the previous limit. For instance, let's imagine the loan limit was $700k, but prices fell enough to drop it to $600k. The limit would remain at $700k year after year (even if prices were rising) until prices got back above $700k.