Displaying items by tag: Mortgages
The epicenter of the financial crisis accompanying the Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly become the commercial real estate space. With so many physical businesses bringing in zero revenue, the huge suspension of cash payments is going to flow through to property owners and then to the lenders that financed those building purchases. Multiple parts of that value chain are going to targeted by markets, but Wells Fargo, in particular, looks exposed. The bank has almost 13% of mortgage market share (residential), around double the exposure of JPMorgan Chase and triple that of Bank of America.
FINSUM: The government’s stimulus package offers some good assistance to help support cash flow (via Ginnie Mae), which could soften the blow. But still, it is going to be a painful period.
In what comes as a very important sign for the wider US economy, lower rates and yields are apparently not flowing through to mortgages in the way that many expected. One of the bright economic spots in the big market volatility recently has been the hope that much lower rates would stimulate more housing demand. Mortgages rates have actually risen by 20 bp since March 5th despite the huge fall in Treasury yields. Even since mid-February (when the market was peaking), mortgage rates have only dropped 15 bp to 3.35% for a 30-year fixed.
FINSUM: This is very important because it takes a 75 bp fall for a typical homeowner to save money on a refinancing. We are not even close to that yet, so hard to see any economic boost coming.
After about three years of being a laggard and worrying investors that a recession may be coming, US real estate looks to be turning the corner. Not only have home sales been rising, but new mortgage data looks very encouraging. Home lenders extended $2.4 tn in new home loans last year, the most since 2006. That figure is a whopping 46% increase from 2018. One economist from Freddie Mac described the situation bluntly, saying “When a large and cyclical part of the economy—housing—is starting to improve, it’s a good sign for the economy at large”.
FINSUM: It is important to note that most of this was refinancing activity because of the drop in rates, so it is not as massive an increase as it appears. Still, good momentum.
US Real estate has been a worry spot for the last few years. For the last three years or so everyone thought real estate might be the initial signal that the economy was headed lower. However, that never materialized and real estate has been looking modestly better for the last several months. The end of 2019 continued that streak as existing home sales rose 3.6% in December as low unemployment helped support the housing market.
FINSUM: We think the housing market is just solid and steady right now. No huge speculative gains, no gigantic increases in debt etc. It is a nice contrast to publicly-traded securities!
Banks across the country are under pressure, and it is starting to show. Four US banks have failed already this year (three in the last month) compared to zero last year. The reasons why are many, but low interest rates and strong competition have been impacting the space. The four bank failures do not seem to be due to a particular asset class, but particular idiosyncratic circumstances. Still, as mortgages have seen lower rates, banks are more and more likely to move into more risky areas to boost yields.
FINSUM: In 2006 there were zero bank failures, in 2007 there were three, in 2008 it was very ugly. We do not think we are going down the same rode, but it is a sign worth noting.