Freddie Mac: February forecast hints at a mortgage market slowdown


This year’s mortgage market is projected to  grow modestly, as both mortgage and interest rates slide further, according to Freddie Mac’s February Forecast.

According to the government sponsored enterprise, U.S. GDP growth will fall to 2.5% in 2019, edging down to 1.8% come 2020. However, Freddie predicts the labor market will remain strong despite these economic headwinds.

Employment, which has been sitting at record highs, is forecasted to retreat slightly to 3.6% in 2019 before returning to a more sustainable long-term rate of 3.9% by 2020, according to the company.

Notably, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate is expected to average 4.6% this year, eventually rising to 4.9% in 2020.

“We expect single-family mortgage originations to increase 2.6% to $1.69 trillion in 2019 and remain around that level in 2020,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said. “With mortgage rates easing up since the end of 2018, we revised up our forecast of the refinance share of originations to 27% and 24% in 2019 and 2020, respectively.”

Freddie also notes housing starts will fall well below long-run demand, increasing to 1.29 million units this year and 1.36 million units next year.