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The Mortgage Bankers Association Predicts New Home Sales Down Sharply

The Mortgage Bankers Association added a little more evidence to the pile indicating a rather rapid slow-down in the housing market. MBA's Builder Application Survey (BAS) data for November shows mortgage applications for newly constructed home purchases falling by 14 percent compared to October. The MBA data is not adjusted to account for seasonal variations, and while sales nearly always decline this time of year, applications were also down 11 percent compared to November 2017. Based on the survey data and assumptions about market coverage and other factors, MBA estimates new home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 units in November. This is down 6.8 percent from the October estimate of 673,000 units.

On an unadjusted basis the estimate is for 45,000 new single-family sales during the month, a 15.1 percent decrease from 53,000 sales in October.

"By our estimates, new home sales fell almost 7 percent in November, and were about 5 percent lower than a year ago," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. "Despite a still-strong job market and recent declines in mortgage rates, affordability challenges continue to hold back sales activity, as wage growth still lags behind home-price growth. Additionally, recent stock market volatility and some economic uncertainty likely also contributed to the pullback in home sales in November."

MBA estimates that 69.7 percent of the purchase mortgage applications were for conventional loans and 17.3 percent went to FHA. Applications for VA loans accounted for 12.3 percent and RHS/USDA loans for 0.7 percent. The average loan size decreased from $331,732 in October to $326,037 in November.

MBA's Builder Application Survey tracks application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of home builders across the country. Official new home sales estimates are conducted by the Census Bureau on a monthly basis. In that data, sales are recorded at contract signing, which is typically coincident with the mortgage application. November new home sales data will be reported on Thursday, December 27.

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