Following a slower than expected summer, the U.S. housing market made up some ground in September as most major indicators inched closer to stability. Freddie Mac released its latest Multi-Indicator Market Index, revealing a 0.5 percent uptick in September to a reading of 74.4 after months of slight declines. The most recent improvement puts the index a few points short of the lower threshold for a market considered to be in "stable" territory.
According to Freddie Mac, three of the four major indicators tracked in the index saw improvements in September, led by a 1.2 percent gain in the gauge of labor health to 94. The components measuring payment-to-income ratios and the proportion of mortgage payments made on time also edged up. As of September's index reading, 14 states and the District of Columbia were in a stable range, with North Dakota, Washington, D.C., Wyoming, Montana, and Hawaii leading the rest.
Mortgage refinance volume increased throughout the third quarter as demand for the government's Home Affordable Refinance Program continued to diminish. Together, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reported nearly 390,000 refinances throughout the third quarter compared to about 345,000 in Q2, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. As refinance volumes rose, the share of refinances completed through HARP fell from about 54,000 in Q2, representing 11 percent of all refinances, to about 44,000 in Q3, representing 11 percent of total refinancing activity.