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Fed Reports Increased Demand for Residential Mortgages

Highest increase in demand since '98

August 26, 2003


Banks have seen increased demand for residential mortgages over the last three months, according to the Federal Reserve Board.

In its Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices, August 2003 report, 46 percent of banks responding to the survey said they had seen stronger demand for mortgages, compared to the prior quarter, the Fed reported.

The percentage represents banks that reported either moderately stronger (22) or substantially stronger (3) demand for first mortgages. For the purposes of the survey, refinances were not considered, the Fed said.

The remainder of the 58 domestic and 17 foreign banks answering the survey said that they did not see a change in demand compared to the prior month.

In the first quarter of 2003, the Fed reported a 17 percent net share of banks experiencing increasing demand; for fourth quarter 2003 the net share was only eight percent, according to the Fed statement. This quarter marks the second consecutive quarter of growth in that area. Fourth quarter 2002 saw a 40 percent increase in banks seeing a higher origination demand.

The leap in net share increase in mortgage demand has only been higher than the current one five times during the time for which data is available, since fourth quarter 1990. The most recent increase of higher magnitude was in 1998, when three of the four quarters showed a higher jump. The year saw a 57.7 percent jump in quarter one, a 63.5 percent jump in quarter two, a 35.3 percent jump in quarter three and a 47 percent jump in quarter four.

Only 1.9 percent of surveyed banks reported tightening standards for residential mortgages. This number is less than half reported in the prior quarter, in which 5.7 percent of banks reported standard tightening. Fourth quarter 2002 saw about 12 percent of reporting banks tightening lending standards.

Outside of third and fourth quarter 2002, the last time banks reported a double-digit positive net share of tightening standards was the third quarter of 1991. That quarter, 12.5 percent of banks reported tightening standards. In the quarters directly prior to that one, surveyed banks also heavily reported tightening standards.

Anne Lineberry is MortgageDaily.com's editor. She previously worked as an online editor/producer for DallasNews.com and on the Metropolitan desk for the print edition of The Dallas Morning News. Email Anne at [email protected]

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