In The News

Despite The Fact That Rates On Average Were Lower In April, Rate Lock Volumes Took A Hit

Black Knight, Inc. (NYSE:BKI) released its latest Originations Market Monitor report, looking at mortgage origination data through April 2023 month-end. Leveraging daily rate lock data from Black Knight’s Optimal Blue PPE, the Originations Market Monitor provides the industry’s earliest and most comprehensive view of origination activity. Here’s what it found:

“Despite the fact that mortgage rates on average were lower in April, rate lock volumes took a hit,” said Andy Walden, vice president of enterprise research and strategy at Black Knight. “From March to April, volumes were down 22%, even though the average rate in April was 17 basis points lower than that of March. While half the decline can be explained by the fact that there were three fewer business days in April than in March, we clearly saw additional cooling in rate lock volumes this month.”

The month’s pipeline data showed locks down across the board, with purchase locks down 22%, cash-out refinance locks declining 21% and rate/term refinance locks down 28%. Purchase locks accounted for more than 87% of locks in April, the highest share on record. Even so, purchase lock counts were down 45% year over year and 38% below April 2019.

“After seeing purchase rate locks pull to within 15% of pre-pandemic levels in mid-January and again in mid-March on easing rates, we’ve seen that deficit eclipse 30% again in recent weeks,” Walden continued. “The cause is likely multifaceted. In addition to fewer business days in April than in March, another component may be potential homebuyers waiting on the sidelines for more favorable rates before locking. We saw a similar phenomenon on the rate dips in March. Inventory challenges are surely playing a role as well. New listing volumes remain well below pre-pandemic levels and active for-sale inventory fell for the sixth consecutive month on a seasonally adjusted basis. Lock volumes will be worth watching closely in coming weeks to see if this trend continues.”

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 April’s origination activity can be found in the full Black Knight Originations Market Monitor report.