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The share of mortgage lenders reporting easing credit standards over the prior three months fell for the second straight quarter, according to Fannie Mae’s first quarter 2016 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey™, conducted in February. The share of lenders who expect to ease credit standards over the following three months fell from last quarter for all mortgage types. The survey also shows the net share of lenders reporting purchase mortgage demand for all loan types decreased significantly from a year ago. Lenders expecting greater refinance mortgage demand over the following three months increased dramatically since last quarter. In addition, more lenders expect an increase in their sales of mortgage servicing rights, continuing the upward trend from last quarter.

“This quarter’s Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey results reflect recent market volatility. Lenders anticipate a pickup in refinance demand in light of the decline in interest rates this year, but report a slowdown in purchase demand perhaps because of a seasonal component,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The survey suggests a slower pace of easing, as the net share of lenders who reported that they have eased credit standards overall over the past three months remained positive but has declined since the third quarter of last year. Lender expectations for easing over the next three months have also moderated. Many lenders also indicate a likely increase in the sales of mortgage servicing rights, possibly to compensate for these countervailing pressures on profits and to take advantage of current favorable pricing in the market.”

Purchase Mortgage Demand Decreased Significantly over Past Three Months

The net share of lenders reporting increased purchase mortgage demand for the prior three months declined significantly across all loan types from one year ago (Q1 2015).

The net share of lenders reporting increased purchase mortgage demand for the next three months is at an overall similar level to the same time last year (Q1 2015).

Refinance Mortgage Demand Expected to Increase Significantly over Next Three Months

Lenders on net reported a decline in refinance purchase mortgage demand over the prior three months, representing significant decreases from the same period last year (Q1 2015).

The net percentage of lenders reporting increased refinance mortgage demand for the next three months rose dramatically since last quarter (Q4 2015), likely reflecting the recent trend of lowering interest rates.

Slower Pace of Credit Easing Reported

The net share of lenders reporting easing rather than tightening credit standards over the prior three months fell for the second straight quarter.

Lenders on net reported tightening of credit standards for government loans for the first time since Q3 2014.

More lenders continue to expect credit easing rather than tightening credit standards for all mortgage types over the next three months, though expectations for easing credit standards are lower than last quarter.

Mortgage Servicing Rights (MSR) Sales Expected to Increase

More lenders reported that they expect to increase rather than decrease the percentage of their MSRs sold to a third party, continuing the upward trend from last quarter (Q4 2015). In particular, significantly more mid-sized institutions expect to increase their share of MSRs sold to a third party compared with the same period last year (Q1 2015).

In addition, lenders on net reported expectations to decrease the share of MSRs retained and serviced in-house.

For more information, visit www.fanniemae.com/progress.

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