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Economy

(New York)

If you have been paying attention to the mortgage market, you will see that some of the most worrying lending activities from the pre-Crisis era are returning. For instance, there has been a sharp recent rise in loans to non-traditional borrowers, or those who have trouble proving their income. The amount of such loans looks to have almost quadrupled in 2018 versus the year before. So far these loans look to be healthy, but there are concerns that in a downturn such mortgages could deteriorate quickly.


FINSUM: These loans are subject to more stringent regulatory standards than back before the Crisis, but this is certainly something to keep an eye on.

(New York)

While markets have calmed down somewhat from December’s chaos, there are still worries over the domestic and global economy. Part of those worries is the real estate market, which continues to sink into a notable slump that could either prove a blip or an important leading indicator. December homes sales fell 6.4% from the previous month and a whopping 10%+ from last December. The market is suffering from significantly elevated mortgage rates and a lack of starter homes. The big fall in sales is counterintuitive because of the currently strong labor market.


FINSUM: The housing market reflects interest rate rises in a very pure way. The big question is whether this is a leading indicator or a slowdown that is idiosyncratic to the sector. To be honest, we think it is some of both.

(New York)

If you think the real estate market is bad now, just wait. That is the argument from James Stack of InvesTech Research. Stack accurately called the last housing crisis and also forecast the slowdown in 2018. Now he is saying that 2019 is going to be the worst year for a long time. “Expect home sales to continue on a downward trend in the next 12-plus months. And there’s a significant downside risk to housing prices if a recession takes hold”, says Stack. He does admit that it is too hard to say if housing is currently in a bubble, but that prices are very likely to fall.


FINSUM: Mortgage rates have risen sharply and prices are quite elevated, so it is no wonder prices have fallen. However, real estate hasn’t seen the exuberance it did pre-Crisis, so we do not think this will be a meltdown by any means.

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