Fannie Mae: Mortgage Lenders' Demand Expectations for Purchase and Refinance Mortgages Hit New Survey Highs as Mortgage Rates Move Lo...

Mortgage Lenders' Demand Expectations for Purchase and Refinance Mortgages Hit New Survey Highs as Mortgage Rates Move Lower


Fannie Mae: Mortgage Lenders' Demand Expectations for Purchase and Refinance Mortgages Hit New Survey Highs as Mortgage Rates Move Lower

Lenders' Profit Margin Outlook Also Hits High on Strong Consumer Demand

(From March 12, 2020, edited by Chaganomics)

WASHINGTON, DC – Mortgage lenders’ profit margin outlook for the next three months reached a new survey high based on data collected in the first half of February, according to Fannie Mae's Q1 2020 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey®. This quarter, 51% of lenders believe profit margins will increase compared to the prior quarter, while 44% believe profits will remain the same and 4% believe profits will decrease. The increased optimism supplements prior quarter MLSS results revealing already-strong lender expectations of profitability. Strong consumer demand for both purchase and refinance mortgages continued to drive lenders' expectations of increased profitability, with operational efficiency cited by lenders as the second most common reason for the optimistic outlook. "The mortgage industry has had a strong start in 2020, consistent with our forecast and the February Home Purchase Sentiment Index® released on Monday," said Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Doug Duncan. "Lenders' expectations of consumer demand for purchase and refinance mortgages hit survey highs this quarter, with many lenders pointing to favorable interest rates as the engine driving the demand. The first quarter survey data, which were collected during the first two weeks of February, do not reflect the potential impact of the decline in the 10-year Treasury rate seen in recent weeks. Mortgage spreads have since widened. Given capacity constraints and continued interest rate volatility, we expect mortgage rates to continue to decline and spreads to continue to be wider throughout 2020." "Past experience from 2012 and 2016 suggests that mortgage spreads generally take a few months to compress," continued Duncan. "We anticipate similar rate dynamics this time, depending on the path of the underlying Treasury rate. Although uncertainty around coronavirus may have a dampening effect on housing market sentiment, for now we expect the continued low interest rate environment will help bolster mortgage volume, particularly refinances, as well as lender profitability, consistent with lenders' expectations."

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