Mortgage Roundup (3/5/20) – Mortgage Applications, Rate Cuts & The Coronavirus

California announces first coronavirus death, bringing US fatalities to at least 11. Airlines could lose up to $113 billion in passenger revenue due to the coronavirus. The Labor Department will release its fourth-quarter productivity report this morning. And Freddie Mac will release its weekly mortgage rates today. 

In other mortgage news …

During his concession speech, Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg touted his housing plan, which includes creating 1 million additional black homeowners. The homeownership rate for black Americans reached a record low in 2019’s second quarter, according to Census data.

Mortgage applications surged 15.1 percent last week over the week earlier – and the refinance index jumped 224 percent above the same week in 2019, MBA data released Wednesday shows.

Rate cuts spurred by the coronavirus are making it easier to afford a mortgage, but some house hunters are afraid to buy at this time. Redfin is offering virtual home tours to address the concerns of buyers and sellers.

The National Association of Realtors asks why mortgage rates aren’t even lower in the midst of a rate cutting spree.

New housing supply is not keeping pace with demand. Nationwide, there’s a deficit of more than 3 million homes, according to a Freddie Mac report. Texas alone is short more than a half-million houses from what’s needed.

The Fed’s surprise rate cut this week will likely trim borrowing costs further on mortgages, home equity lines and credit cards.

Fifth Third Bank revealed that it is facing an enforcement action from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over alleged fake accounts. Wells Fargo has been battered by regulators and lawsuits stemming from the fake account scandal that showed 5,000 Wells Fargo employees opened two million fake accounts in order to receive sales bonuses.

Fannie Mae completed its first two Credit Insurance Risk Transfer (CIRT) transactions of 2020, shifting $1 billion of single-family loan credit risk to insurers and reinsurers. Through the CIRT program, insurers assume the credit risk on a pool of mortgage loans, which allows the risk to be further shared with reinsurers.