A review of mortgage inquiries on https://www.mortgageloan.com shows a clear drop in consumer requests regarding purchase and refinance transactions. Our tabulation of our site visitors requests for information during the period between December 15, 2010 and January 15, 2011 resulted in a 21% overall drop from the previous month. While much of the drop is holiday and weather related and therefore expected, outsized drops in information requests occurred throughout most of the markets in the Northeast with New York City, Philadelphia and Boston being most adversely affected. On the positive front, Chicago and Houston, among the 10 largest metro areas, had surprising jumps in purchase related requests.

New York City Mortgages:

The housing market in the New York Metro seems to have taken a timeout for the holidays and for snow days. Over the period between December 15, 2010 and January 15, 2008, MortgageLoan has experienced a 34% decrease in New York City overall request volume. Refinance requests dropped by 40% and purchase requests dropped by half that much.

Boston Mortgages:

Boston Metro area market showed a 37% drop in refinance requests, yet only a 3% drop in purchase requests. The purchase market in the Boston area is one of the best performers among markets in the Northeast. Purchase activity stimulates consumer spending in a community and is a positive sign for the Boston area's broader economy.

Philadelphia Mortgages:

Philadelphia real estate request activity dropped significantly in our current review. Requests for refinance information declined by the same percentage as Boston (37%) but purchase requests declined much more significantly (11%) than did Boston. This could be an indication that the housing market in Philadelphia has yet to see a bottom in price, causing would be purchasers to hold-off on the buying decision.

Chicago and Houston Mortgages

In one of the big surprises in this month's site activity review was the growth in Chicago purchase related requests by 8%. But that paled in comparison to the purchase activity growth of 20% in Houston. Both cities shared in the overall decline in refinance activity with drops of 35% and 29% respectively.

Overall, site activity at https://www.mortgageloan.com indicates that the housing market in most of the US is still suffering from the impact of price depreciation. When prices drop it creates an impediment to refinancing (prices drop below home values) and a hesitancy to purchase (why buy now if prices are still falling?). In this monthly review of site activity the key findings are these:

  • Holidays and weather took focus away from housing issues
  • Rising mortgage rates added to a steep decline in refinance requests
  • Some markets are experiencing a positive pickup in purchase requests that could be indicative of home price stabilization (notables include Chicago, Houston, Riverside, Minneapolis, Austin, Tampa, Charlotte)
  • Non-metro market purchase requests turned positive indicating that rural housing values may also be stabilizing

MortgageLoan.com serves hundreds of thousands of consumers each month providing access to news, information and connections to the mortgage market. We are not a research organization but given the volume of traffic we see, the profile of our visitors' activity does provide a valuable snapshot of the housing and mortgage markets. Therefore, periodically we will share a profile of those that visit our site seeking mortgage loan assistance. Our aim is to highlight trends and interesting patterns we see that may foretell market turns or that are contrary to recent reports from other sources. Our goal is to provide fresh, rather than several weeks old, data to illuminate trends as they develop.

Published on January 31, 2011