Mortgage Applications Keep Falling, and No One Seems to Care

16th November 2018 Off By binary
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Mortgage applications have been falling all through the fall, they are now down 22 percent from year-ago levels, with purchase applications down 3 percent. This matters because if people aren’t taking out mortgages they are not buying homes. Residential construction has been a drag on GDP in the last three quarters. Also, when people buy a new home they typically buy appliances and other items associated with moving. This means less consumption spending as well.

The decline in refinancing will also affect consumption. Typically people refinance a mortgage to get a lower interest rate, which frees up money for other spending. With interest rates up by a percentage point from pre-tax cut levels, few people can save money by refinancing.

This should be worth a bit of news coverage, but both the NYT and WaPo didn’t mention the new or recent data on mortgage applications. To be clear, this is not recession stuff, but with the stimulus from the tax cut fading, and our trading partners showing unexpected weakness, we are likely to see substantially weaker growth in the near future. That should warrant a bit of attention.

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