Black Knight Reports a Nearly 17 Percent Drop in Rate/Term Refinance Locks in July

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Black Knight Inc. has released its latest Originations Market Monitor report, looking at mortgage origination data through the end of July. The month’s pipeline data showed overall rate locks down 14.4% month over month, led by a 16.9% decline in rate/term refinance locks, which are now down 93.6% since last year. Cash-out refinance activity fell another 14.1% from June – a 67.2% year-over-year decline.

“Mortgage originators continue to experience strong headwinds,” says Scott Happ, president of Optimal Blue, a division of Black Knight. “Rate lock activity has been down four straight months, with declines across all loan purpose types. Purchase mortgages, which currently account for 82 percent of all lock activity, fell 14.3 percent by volume from June and are now down 22 percent from last year. The purchase lock count, which excludes the impact of soaring home values on volume, is off 25.8 percent from last year. That count is now down 11 percent from 2019, marking the first month the number of purchase locks has fallen below pre-pandemic levels, as affordability challenges continue to cool the housing market.”

The refi share of the market held at just 18%, the lowest point on record since at least January 2018, when Optimal Blue began tracking the metric. Government loan products gained market share as FHA lock activity increased at the expense of non-conforming loan volumes, a trend also likely reflected in another decline in the average loan amount – from $351,000 to $344,000. The overall average credit score in July was 722, with scores on cash-out refinances edging modestly lower to 692 – the lowest since Optimal Blue began tracking the metric in 2013.

“Although 30-year interest rates actually pulled back slightly in July, the originations market is still reacting to previous increases and continuing affordability challenges,” Happ continues. “As we reported in our recent Mortgage Monitor report, home prices have begun to pull back in some of the hotter home markets, particularly those on the West Coast. With the end of the traditional homebuying season approaching, we will be watching this trend closely.”

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