Nonbank mortgage employment dips despite improving housing market

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Nonbank mortgage employment dipped slightly in July, ending a four-month run of hiring pickups.

Nondepository mortgage lenders and brokers trimmed their payrolls by 500 employees in July, bringing total employment in the sector to 340,800, from 341,300 in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The BLS data includes an increase to its original estimate for June employment of 200 jobs.

Despite the decline, nonbank lenders and brokers have added 6,100 full-time jobs since the start of the year. However, the home buying season is winding down and new data shows home sales have been slowing lately, but are still up for the year.

Meanwhile, refinancing activity is leveling off. A recent pull-back in mortgage rates prompted more applications for purchase loans than refinance mortgages, according to a Wells Fargo Securities Economics Group report.

Refinancings dropped to $147 billion in the second quarter from $235 billion in the same quarter of 2016.

Both "new and existing home sales fell significantly in July," according to an Aug. 25 Mortgage Bankers Association report by Joel Kan, associate vice president of industry surveys and forecasting.

"Purchase mortgage application activity has also started slowed in recent months even if it was stronger on a year over year basis," Kan added.

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Yet single-family construction remains "healthy," the MBA economist said.

The National Association of Home Builders reported that new home sales over the first seven months of 2017 are 9.2% higher than the same period last year.

Millennials are reaching their "peak family formation years," according to the Wells Fargo Securities Economics Group.

And builders are offering more new homes priced under $300,000 to meet the rising demand from first-time home buyers.

The WFS economists estimate new home sales "remain on pace to rise 10.5% this year to 620,100 homes," according to their August Housing Chartbook. And existing home sales should rise by 2.4% this year to 4.96 million.

Mortgage industry employment data lags the BLS national data by one month. The U.S economy created 156,000 new jobs in August compared to 209,000 in July, according to BLS. And the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4%.

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Employment data Nonbank Mortgage brokers First time home buyers Housing market Purchase Bureau of Labor Statistics Mortgage Bankers Association