Real estate watchers often track the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly reports on mortgage applications as a gauge of housing demand. Since the battle against coronavirus became widespread, the association has published a California slice among its national data.

Here’s what my trusty spreadsheet tells me about the state’s “purchase mortgage” application trends during a spring homebuying season derailed by COVID-19.

• In a three-week period ended April 3, California’s application pace fell by 46%. So in early April, loan applications ran 47.5% below the previous year’s pace.• Applications have increased for seven consecutive weeks, including an 11.6% jump for the week ended May 22. That put loan applications off just 1.7% below the year-ago pace.• It adds up to an eye-catching 77% surge in applications off of the pandemic’s bottom in early April.

While this metric shows April’s dour homebuying market was revived in May, it’s unclear if this upswing is simply delayed activity back on pace or some bigger purchasing push.

Mortgage rates are at historic lows, enticing many house hunters. But reports suggest lenders have become pickier at who gets approved during the pandemic battle.

To Logan Mohtashami, a housing data analyst from Irvine, the application rebound at least quashes his fears the housing market was crashing amid the pandemic’s business lockdowns.

The data “just takes the extreme housing-crash-youtube-death-cult people away for a little while,” he said. “Once July comes around, the June’s housing data will be more reflective of where we are at on housing. We should work from that month on. But March, April and May data is simply too wild due to lockdown protocols.”

Content originally featured in Orange County Register

PUBLISHED: May 27, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. | UPDATED: May 27, 2020 at 1:53 p.m.