January data shows uptick in home-buying activity; Florida posts three markets in national top 20

by | Feb 13, 2023

  • Three Florida metro areas (Orlando, Tampa, and Miami) ranked among the top metro areas in the US for increases in mortgage interest rate lock volumes according to January 2023 data.
  • The increase in mortgage rate lock volumes is an indicator of a growing demand for homes and confidence in the housing market, although the recent uptick in rate lock activity is partly due to seasonal rebound and still down 60% from the same period last year.
  • The 20 metropolitan areas with the highest mortgage interest rate lock volume all saw double-digit growth in January, with three Florida metros making the list.

With mortgage interest rates posting a welcome decline last month, home-buying activity picked up across the country, helping to propel three Florida metro areas into the national Top 20 hottest housing markets, according to one metric measured by Jacksonville, Florida-based Black Knight, Inc., a leading software, data, and analytics company.  A comprehensive review of January mortgage origination data from January 2023 showed Orlando, Tampa and Miami ranking among the top metro areas for increases in mortgage interest rate lock volumes.

A mortgage rate lock is a commitment by a lender to provide a potential home buyer with a specified mortgage interest rate until the homebuyer and seller complete the sale. Mortgage rate locks are an important metric to gauge the strength of a real estate market because they give insight into the demand for mortgage loans and the confidence of borrowers in the housing market. When the number of mortgage rate locks increase, it’s a strong indicator that more people are looking to buy homes and that they feel confident about their financial situation and the housing market.

But Black Knight also issued a warning with the good news, noting that part of the uptick in rate lock activity wasn’t solely due to lower interest rates.

“While this month’s Originations Market Monitor certainly brings welcome news, it’s important to remember that we would have expected to see a seasonal rebound in January, regardless,” said Kevin McMahon, President of Optimal Blue, a division of Black Knight. “Mortgage originations continue to face significant rate, affordability and inventory headwinds, and lock volumes are still down more than 60% from the comparable period last year. With rates picking back up in early February, it will be interesting to see whether the rebound in lock activity will hold.”

The report showed that overall rate lock dollar volume, or the amount of money spent on mortgage rates, rose 32% from the previous month. This increase was seen across all types of mortgage rates, including purchase (+32%), rate/term (+37%), and cash-out (+25%) locks. Refinance locks, which are mortgage loans taken out to pay off and replace an existing mortgage, made up only 15% of the activity in January, which is historically low and reflects the limited incentives for refinancing in the current market.

The report also showed that the 20 metropolitan areas with the highest mortgage interest rate lock volume all experienced double-digit growth over the month, with Chicago, Nashville, and Charlotte seeing a 50% month-over-month increase from December. The Miami – Fort Lauderdale – Palm Beach metro area ranked 9th in the nation, with the Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater metro charting 14th nationally. Orlando-Kissimmee – Sanford also cracked the national Top 20, coming in at 19th in January.

Each month, Black Knight’s Originations Market Monitor provides high-level mortgage origination data for the United States and the top 20 metropolitan statistical areas by share of total origination volume. The full report provides detailed picture of the national real estate market’s mortgage activity.

View the full report from Black Knight, here.


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