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Financing is Starting to Flow

Despite seeing 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rates that were a hefty 1 percent point higher in December than a year earlier, the U.S. housing market is continuing to post solid results, according to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey.

Survey results for December pointed to a housing market that was significantly healthier at the end of 2013 than it was a year earlier. For non-distressed properties, the average time on market was lower and the average sales-to-list price ratio was higher compared to year-ago levels.

The new HousingPulse data also confirms that mortgage lending conditions have improved over the past year. Specifically, the survey data shows an increase in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac financing – particularly for first-time homebuyers – as well as a plentiful supply of jumbo mortgage financing in most regional housing markets.

“Six months after the May-June 2013 rise in interest rates, the housing market is showing remarkable resilience,” said Thomas Popik, research director for the HousingPulse survey. “A year-over-year comparison of key metrics points to a housing market that was stronger at the end of 2013 than it was at the end of 2012.”

The average time on market for non-distressed properties, an important sign of health in the housing market, stood at 9.7 weeks in December (based on a three-month moving average), according to the HousingPulse survey. This was down from 12.4 weeks in December of 2012.

HousingPulse results also showed the average sales-to-list price ratio was 97.1 percent in December 2013 compared to 95.5 percent a year earlier.

In terms of mortgage usage, the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac share of home purchase transactions (based on a three-month moving average) hit 19.2% in December – the highest level recorded by HousingPulse in its four-year history. It also was way up from the 16.5 percent share recorded in December of 2012.

The share of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac financing for first-time homebuyers also hit a new HousingPulse recorded high of 19.5 percent in December. That compared to 14.1 percent a year earlier.

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