Mortgage lending plummets in first quarter of 2022

by Liz Hughes

Mortgage lending took a nose dive across the U.S. in the first quarter of 2022, according to a new report from ATTOM

Secured mortgages fell 18% from the fourth quarter of 2021 and were down 32% from the same time last year — the biggest year-over-year drop since 2014. This marked the fourth quarterly decrease, which the data management company said was the result of “double-digit downturns in purchase and refinance activity, even as home-equity lending rose.”

Along with the 32% decline in residential mortgages, the report found the number of new loans fell for the fourth straight quarter, meanwhile refinance lending fell another 22% and purchase mortgages were down 18%. 

In the first quarter of the year $892.4 billion worth of mortgages were issued, a quarterly drop of 17% and down 27% annually. The report notes these decreases were the largest in five and eight years, respectively. 

A decrease in refinance deals was the biggest contributor to the downturn as only 1.5 million residential loans were rolled into new mortgages in the first quarter, down 22% from the fourth quarter of 2021 and 46% from last year. 

Additionally, refinance mortgages fell for the fourth quarter in a row due to rising mortgage interest rates. The dollar value of these refinance loans fell 20% from the previous quarter and 42% from last year to $470.7 billion. 

Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at ATTOM, said the drop-off in first quarter refinancing activity is no surprise with mortgage rates rising as rapidly as they have. 

“But many forecasts expected purchase loans to remain strong in 2022, and even increase in both the number of loans originated and the dollar volume of those loans,” he said. “The weakness in purchase loan activity shows just how much of an impact the combination of escalating home prices and rising interest rates have had on borrower activity this year.”

Purchase-loan activity also fell in the first quarter, down 18% quarterly and 12% from last year. 

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