A total of 1.25 million mortgages secured by residential property were originated in the first quarter of this year, according to new data from ATTOM. This represented a 19% drop from the fourth quarter of 2022 – the eighth consecutive quarterly decrease – and a 56% year-over-year tumble. The first quarter of the year was also the lowest point since late-2000 for mortgage origination activity.
Lenders issued $388 billion worth of residential mortgages in the first quarter, a 20% decline from the previous quarter and a 58% drop from one year earlier. The overall activity included 595,253 loans granted to home purchasers in the first quarter, down 19% from the previous quarter and down 44% from one year earlier. The $216 billion volume of purchase mortgages represented downturns of 18% from the fourth quarter of 2022 and 45% from the first quarter of 2022.
On the refinance side, only 407,956 mortgages were rolled over into new ones – the smallest amount this century. This represented an 18% quarterly slide and a 73% plummet from one year before. The value of refinance packages was down 21% from the prior quarter and 74% annually to $127 billion.
Home equity lending also went down, dropping 23% in the first three months of this year to a total of 245,071. The decline marked the second quarterly decrease following a year and a half of gains.
“Lenders saw opportunities dwindle even more during the first quarter as the longest slowdown in mortgage activity in at least 20 years continued,” said ATTOM CEO Rob Barber. “In one sense, it wasn’t that unusual, given that wintertime is usually the slow time of the year for lenders. But the latest slide extends a run that started two years ago and has carved away nearly three-quarters of the home-mortgage business. Things remain uncertain in the near future, with the potential for interest rates and inflation to go either way, but the Spring buying season will be a key indicator of whether things may turn around.”