Numbers from the most recent housing reports from June show that low mortgage rates are keeping housing on track, according to recently released data from Freddie Mac. The report examines current projections of homeownership rates in the years to come from among various experts, as well as the latest results on refinance statistics from current homeowners.
According to the report, “For the second time, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2016 was revised upward from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.8 percent to 1.1 percent. Upward revisions to growth in exports and nonresidential fixed investment were primary drivers in the adjustment to GDP growth.” After the initial estimate of 0.5 percent growth, this newest figure suggests the start of 2016 was not as bad as originally thought. Regardless of May's disappointing employment report, expect unemployment to average 4.9 percent in 2016 and 4.8 percent in 2017.
The house price appreciation forecast for 2016 has increased by 20 basis points to 5.0 percent, and in 2017 by 40 basis points to 4.0 percent. During the first quarter of this year an estimated $10.9 billion net of home equity were converted to cash during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, down from $11.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015 and substantially less than during the peak cash-out refinance volume of $84.0 billion during the second quarter of 2006.
"Despite the increase in cash-out refinances in the recent quarters, there is little risk of over-leveraging in the conventional conforming prime market,” says Freddie Mac’s, Chief Economist. “The median loan-to-value ratio for all prime conventional cash-out refinances was 69 percent in the first quarter of 2016. For comparison, it was 74 percent in 2000, 73 percent in 2001, and 71 percent in 2002. As we mentioned in last month's Insight increased leverage -- including greater utilization of cash-out refinancing -- is an important trend to monitor. The latest quarterly data show no worrisome cash-out trends."
International concerns, particularly slowing growth in China and the Brexit vote in the U.K., have played a major role in driving down mortgage rates. In our most recent survey, mortgage rates fell below 3.5 percent nearing historic lows. Since we have tempered our expectations on mortgage rates for the rest of 2016, we believe there will be a boost in housing activity, particularly refinance, as homeowners take advantage of the current low rates.
Freddie Mac experts estimate the refinance share of originations to rise up to 49 percent for 2016, 8 percentage points above last month's forecast.