Morning Report: MBA refinance index falls to lows of 2018

Vital Statistics:

S&P futures3,9323-18.25
Oil (WTI)110.400.59
10 year government bond yield 2.73%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 5.32%

Stocks are flattish this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat as well.

Rates have been falling the past few days, which seems to be a return to the “risk off” mentality where investors sell stocks to buy bonds. Regardless of the reason, mortgage rates are beginning to come down which is good news for borrowers. This might be a good time to wake up some borrowers. The latest economic data has been somewhat subdued, which helps the situation. We are nowhere near recessionary territory for this year, but if growth is slowing that takes some pressure off the Fed.

The FOMC minutes will be released today at 2:00 pm. The minutes are usually not market-moving but with the bond market so skittish they might take on more importance.

Mortgage applications fell 1.2% last week as purchases increased by 0.2% and refis fell by 4%. “The 30-year fixed rate declined for the second straight week to 5.46 percent but remains well above what borrowers were used to over the past two years,” said Joel Kan, MBA Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Most refinance borrowers continue to remain on the sidelines as a result, and refinance applications have fallen in nine of the past 10 weeks. Compared to January 2022, refinance activity is down 66 percent.” You can see we are at the lows of early 2018 on the refi index.

Durable Goods orders rose 0.4% in April, which was a deceleration from March. Ex-transportation (which tends to be volatile) they rose 0.3%. This is further evidence that the Fed’s actions to slow the economy have working.

You don’t have to look at the charts of the major mortgage bankers (Mr. Cooper notwithstanding) to know that profits fell in the first quarter. The MBA Mortgage Bankers Performance Report showed that average pretax profit was only 5 basis points, which is well below the 55 basis point average since 2008. Rising costs were the big driver.

“It was a challenging mortgage market environment in the first quarter of 2022, with rising mortgage rates and low housing inventory resulting in lower production volume,” said Marina Walsh, CMB, MBA Vice President of Industry Analysis. “In addition to cost increases, productivity slipped for both sales and fulfillment staff “Furthermore, pull-through rates of closings to applications declined by 5 percentage points in the first quarter, affecting both revenue and cost. With the record-setting refinance volume of the past two years in the rearview mirror, the mortgage industry is clearly in a period of transition and many companies will need to make tough decisions.”

Average production volume fell 29% compared to the fourth quarter, while production revenue was more or less flat at 350 basis points. Servicing income rose to $242 per loan from $71 in the fourth quarter.

14 Responses

  1. From Punchbowl news yesterday:

    “House Democrats will start hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection early next month. This will be a big deal. It will remind voters once again how unprecedented – and frightening – the actions by Trump and his allies were in the days leading up to the Capitol attack. These hearings may not cause a major shift in public opinion, but they’re not going to help Trump and Republicans either.”

    I disagree. To the extent that it looks like they are continuously re-litigating the past (like Trump is over 2020 election fraud claims) versus being focused on inflation, the economy, etc, it could well backfire. Ala Bill Clinton’s impeachment.


    • They haven’t been having hearings for the past 18 months?


    • I think it backfires. ONLY appeals to the hardcore base like Trump’s constant relitigation of the election. That is: find for niche people who cater only to the base to cover but not good for national politicians or the national party. And the MSM is a wing of the national Democratic Party.

      I’d say it was a bad idea—and it is—except what else do they have to run on?


  2. Interesting piece on the final wind down of Lehman Brothers.


  3. OMG


    • so are we back to defunding the police or something? i can’t keep track


    • For anyone who doesn’t already understand how racially divisive Obama has been, perhaps this will awaken them.



      Keeping in mind I disagreed with him politically on pretty much everything, I always understood why Obama got elected and thought he did a pretty good job as president–or as good as a Democrat was ever likely to do, which is worse than most Republicans probably or at least bad in ways I like less but, you know . . . point being, I was okay with agreeing to disagree but give him the respect I would give the office and people who served in it.

      But getting kind of tired of him.


Be kind, show respect, and all will be right with the world.

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