2020 mortgage and real estate trends in 6 charts

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Bankrate has reported over and over that 2020 was a record-setting year for the mortgage and real estate industries. Here’s what the numbers show those records actually looked like.

Mortgage rates

Amid an economic downturn, mortgage rates were one bright spot for homeowners. Low rates meant cheap borrowing for homeowners who wanted to refinance or buyers who wanted to close on their first home.

Mortgage applications

Not surprisingly, those low rates spurred a mortgage boom this year. New mortgage originations and refinancing requests came at such a high rate that many lenders were backed up for months.

Forbearance requests

Although interest rates were low, the broader economy was suffering throughout 2020, and millions of people lost their jobs. As part of the CARES Act, Congress authorized a sweeping mortgage forbearance program, which provided relief to many homeowners.

Home prices

A confluence of factors — including those low mortgage rates and changing housing preferences — led to rising real estate prices this year.

Housing starts

Another factor that led to rising home prices was a decline in new construction, even as demand for housing increased. Housing starts still haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Home sales

Despite rising prices and tight supply, the real estate market has recovered quickly since the start of the pandemic. It’s been a busy seller’s market since the spring.

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Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.
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