Black Knight’s February 2023 Originations Market Monitor
Loan Demand Dips and Borrowers Shift Toward Jumbos, ARMs as Rate Rise Resumes
- Rate lock dollar volumes rose 2% month over month in February, although the number of locks dropped, as loan production shifted toward jumbos, which offered more favorable rates than GSE products
- Purchase lock volumes rose 4%, driven by seasonal tailwinds, while cash-out refinance volumes fell 11% on rising interest rates and rate/term locks remained near record lows
- The refinance share of the market fell back to 14% of overall activity, the low point in this cycle first reached in October
- Despite the month-over-month gains, purchase lock counts – which exclude the impact of home price changes – are well below both last year’s (-42%) and pre-pandemic (-35% against 2020) levels
- Nonconforming loans – including jumbos and expanded guidelines – picked up share relative to all other loan products (12.2%), while conforming (56.6%), FHA (18.4%) and VA (12.0%) products all lost share
- Likewise, the ARM share of lending popped back above 10% in February as the rise in rates pushed borrowers to consider alternatives to fixed-rate loans
- Optimal Blue Mortgage Market Indices from Black Knight showed 30-year rates dipped below 6% for the first time since September, before rising 52 basis points to finish the month at 6.68%
- The spread between the 10-year Treasury and 30-year conforming mortgage rate widened by 12 basis points as Agency MBS sold off relative to Treasuries in response to revived inflation concerns
- The average loan amount rose from $340K to $349K, while the average purchase price climbed from $421K to $434K
- Credit scores remained essentially flat for cash-out refis and purchases but dropped 7 points for the limited number of rate/term refi locks
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – March. 13, 2023 – Today, Black Knight, Inc. (NYSE:BKI) announced the release of its latest Originations Market Monitor report, looking at mortgage origination data through February 2023 month-end. Leveraging daily rate lock data from Black Knight’s Optimal Blue PPE – mortgage lending’s most widely used pricing engine – the Originations Market Monitor provides the industry’s earliest and most comprehensive view of origination activity.
“Mortgage rates ticked up again in February after a brief respite, showing once again just how rate sensitive the market continues to be,” said Kevin McMahon, president of Optimal Blue, a division of Black Knight. “Conforming rates dipped below 6% early in the month but finished it up 52 basis points from January. Even though the number of rate locks was down month over month, dollar volume increased due to a rate environment that favored jumbo and ARM loans over GSE products. Essentially, though, the story remains the same – one of a market facing significant interest rate-driven headwinds. As Black Knight reported last week in our latest Mortgage Monitor, there were clear signs of buyside demand when rates neared 6% – it just quickly pulled back when rates began to climb again.”
The month’s pipeline data showed overall rate lock dollar volume up 2% over January, with purchase locks rising 4% while cash-out refinances fell 11% and rate/term refis remained near historic lows. Combined, refinance locks made up just 14% of the month’s activity, returning to the low point in this cycle, first reached in October. Five of the largest 20 MSAs by lock volume saw pullbacks, with former hotspot Austin experiencing a double-digit decline month over month.
“As rates resumed their upward trajectory in February, borrowers responded predictably, moving toward more rate-favorable offerings,” McMahon continued. “That included a shift to jumbos, ARMs and other nonconforming products in the month. With refinance activity basically at a floor, all eyes are on the purchase market. And yet such lock volumes remain more than 40% down from last year’s level, with the triple-threat of rate, affordability and inventory challenges still looming large for the foreseeable future.”
Each month’s Originations Market Monitor provides high-level origination metrics for the U.S. and the top 20 metropolitan statistical areas by share of total origination volume. Much more detail on February’s origination activity can be found in the full Black Knight Originations Market Monitor report.
About Black Knight
Black Knight, Inc. (NYSE:BKI) is an award-winning software, data and analytics company that drives innovation in the mortgage lending and servicing and real estate industries, as well as the capital and secondary markets. Businesses leverage our robust, integrated solutions across the entire homeownership life cycle to help retain existing customers, gain new customers, mitigate risk and operate more effectively.
Our clients rely on our proven, comprehensive, scalable products and our unwavering commitment to delivering superior client support to achieve their strategic goals and better serving their customers. For more information on Black Knight, please visit www.blackknightinc.com.
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