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Housing markets are always evolving, although today’s market looks starkly different than it did one year ago. Not only have interest rates roughly doubled over the past year, but housing prices are lower, too. In fact, 2023 could see the first year-over-year decline in prices since the Great Recession.

As 2023 gets under way, many correspondent lenders probably want to know: How will softening home prices impact originations? More importantly, what can they do to maximize borrower opportunities?

Prices and Production

While it’s true that home prices historically dip during the winter months, the current market is unique in two fundamental ways – mortgage interest rates have shot up dramatically, and it now appears evident that the U.S. is either entering a recession or already in one.

For this reason, most experts project home prices will continue to fall this year. In fact, real estate firm Redfin projected home sales prices will fall by 4% in 2023, marking the first annual price drop in a decade. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) is also predicting several more quarters of declining home prices, particularly in the West and Mountain regions of the country.

Typically, falling home prices reflect lower demand for housing. That certainly holds water in today’s market, as many people who were thinking of buying their first home have been put off by the impact higher rates would have on their payment. And yet, interest rates and home prices are not the only reason why people decide to buy a home.

Outlook for Originations

Higher interest rates are keeping some would-be buyers from purchasing a home, but not all of them. In fact, as home prices drift lower, the MBA believes first-time millennial buyers will fuel future demand for purchase loans.

According to the group, there are 50 million people in the U.S. between the ages of 28 and 38, which is the prime age range for first-time buyers. Many of them are forming households and looking at homeownership as a long-term investment in their future.

In addition, when home prices soften, it’s typically markets and neighborhoods that already have the lowest prices that see the biggest drops. That makes these areas much more affordable to first-time buyers.

Yet another factor that is likely to give volumes a boost is interest rates, which have dropped by an entire percentage point over the past two months. The MBA forecasts interest rates to fall by the end of the year, which the trade group expects will fuel a housing rebound by 2024.

Expanding the Opportunity

While the current market remains challenging for lenders, the reality is that millions of people will still buy homes next year. Lower prices will likely lure some fence-sitters back into the market, especially if rates continue to hold steady or decline. Either way, lenders need to have a game plan for helping as many of these buyers as possible.

One terrific way to help first-time buyers is by offering down payment assistance (DPA) programs like the Chenoa Fund, CBC Mortgage Agency’s DPA program. DPA enables many first-time homebuyers to overcome their biggest hurdle to homeownership—coming up with enough money for a down payment.

With the Chenoa Fund DPA, lenders may be able to help first-time buyers pay for up to 5% of the price of a home when getting an FHA loan or a conforming loan. This can have a life-changing impact on buyers who may not have access to the “Bank of Mom and Dad,” which is often the case for Hispanic and African American borrowers.

Another potential advantage of using the Chenoa Fund is that CBC Mortgage Agency offers homeownership counseling to borrowers, giving them the knowledge and financial skills to maintain homeownership for years to come.

Visit our website to find out more about using the Chenoa Fund DPA to help your clients take advantage of lower home prices.

CBC Mortgage Agency – NMLS 1186381

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Illinois Residential Mortgage License #MB.6761292. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Banking, 100 West Randolph, 9th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 – 1-888-473-4858. This information is provided by CBC Mortgage Agency and intended for real estate and mortgage professionals only. It is not intended for public use or distribution. Terms and conditions of programs and guidelines are subject to change at any time without notice. This is not a commitment to lend. Equal housing opportunity.