The monthly Originations Insight Report from ICE Mortgage Technology typically shows only incremental changes in loan characteristics from month to month. The report for December 2021, however, allows us to see that, in some respects, the mortgage market has evolved significantly over the last 12 months.

The share of refinancing is the most dramatic and probably least surprising change. While those loans still dominated originations in December, at 52 percent (down 1 percentage point from November) they had accounted for 67 percent of originations in January. The decline in refinancing almost totally reflected the change in the composition of conventional loans. The refinancing share of those products dropped from 74 percent to 55 percent over the year while VA refinancing grew 4 points to 40 percent and FHA refinancing ended the year where it started, at 24 percent, which was also the year’s high.

Conventional loans accounted for 78 percent of the loans originated in December and FHA loans for 12 percent. The conventional share had declined slowly over the previous 12 months after starting the year with 84 percent of the market. FHA gained 3 percentage points compared to January. The VA share in December was 6 percent. The share of adjustable rate mortgages more than doubled during the year, rising to 5.2 percent in December from 2.3 percent at the start of the year.

The number of days required to close a loan are down sharply from January when many lenders found themselves overwhelmed with refinancing applications as interest rates moved lower. Closing time for all loans in December 2021 was 49 days, down from 58 in January of that year. The time to close refinances fell to 45 days from 59 while the purchase loan timeline only improved by 3 days to 54 days in December.

The 30-year fixed rate grew from 2.88 percent to 3.35 across the year, ending at the year’s high.

The closing or pull-through rate also improved over the course of the year and did so for all loan types although all were down fractionally from November. The rate, calculated from applications submitted 90 days earlier, in this case in August, was 78.4 percent for all loans, up from 76.2 percent in January. The refinance closing rate rose from 74.4 percent to 77.5 percent and the purchase rate increased 0.9 point to 79.8 percent.

ICE’s Origination Insight Report mines its application data from a large sample of approximately 80 percent of all mortgage applications initiated on its proprietary platform. The company says the report is a strong proxy of the underwriting standards employed by lenders across the country.