Investors beware, credit quality is quickly eroding in the real estate sector. While lending standards started strong after the Crisis, they have eroded significantly in the last few years as investor demand for yields has pushed lenders further down the credit spectrum and eroded protections. The credit quality of both prime and sub-prime borrowers has fallen and the popularity of CRT (credit risk transfer) securities, or mortgage bonds not fully backed by Fannie and Freddie, has risen. Worryingly, yields have not reacted to the decline in quality, as such risky CRT bonds have recently traded at less than a 100 bp premium to Treasuries.
FINSUM: So the big worry with mortgage bonds is that they always collapse faster than any model can predict. Because mortgage payments are so linked to the underlying economy and employment, when a recession happens, the defaults just flood in. We could be headed in that direction.