Existing Home Sales Rise 4.4% In March, Median Prices Over $750K Growing At >30%

Ah, Spring is here and existing home sales rose 4.4% in March.

While existing home sales are still around pre-bubble levels (2002), the median price of existing home sales are now above the peak of the housing bubble.

Climbing median prices with slowly recoverying existing home sales? How about lack of inventory as a suspect. Inventory of existing homes is still around 2000/2001 levels.

Here is something different. Median prices for existing home sales under $500,000 are tepid to declining.

But median prices for homes over $750,000 rose at over 30% in March.

Low inventory + super low interest rates?

I call this the “Yellen Meteor” in home prices.

Wells Fargo Mortgage Applications Fall To Lowest Since 2005* (The Wells Fargo Mortgage Wagon ISN’T Coming!)

It is reporting season for American banks and Wells Fargo’s came out today. first-quarter-earnings-supplement

Of particular interest is the decline in residential mortgage applications for Wells Fargo, the lowest since 2005. Because that is the last year for which there is data on Bloomberg for Wells Fargo.*

Mortgage originations? About the same as Q1 2016, but substantially below levels seen in 2012. Q1 2017 is the second lowest level of originations sine 2005.

It just isn’t Wells Fargo. Take Bank of America. But Wells claimed their niche was the residential mortgage market while other banks retreated from the market.

Low wage growth coupled with regulatory overreach by Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has diminished residential mortgage lending by the banks.

So, the Wells Fargo (mortgage lending) wagon isn’t coming. And it isn’t for other big banks either. But PROFITS increased for mortgage bankers  in 2016.

While Wells Fargo was still the leading mortgage originator in Q3 2016, shadow bank Quicken is challenging Chase for 2nd place with PennyMac challenging US Bank for 4th place in the mortgage origination derby.

Maybe Dan Gilbert, the CEO of Quicken Loans and the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, should adopt the Wells Fargo wagon song for Quicken! Because it seems that Wells Fargo’s wagon isn’t bring the home loans as expected.

MBA Residential Mortgage Application Index Hits Highest Level Since May 2010 .. And It Is Only April!!

As mortgage interest rates hit a new 2017 low, we now see mortgage purchase applications rising to its highest level since May 2010.

This new level is in spite of mortgage originations for borrowers with credit scores under 620 playing a lesser than during the financial crisis. Although mortgage originations for borrowers with credit scores under 620 are at their highest level since March 2010. So both mortgage purchase applications (SA) and under 620 credit score mortgage borrowers are at their highest levels since 2010.

With the worst wage recovery after a recession in modern history, expanding the “credit envelope” is about the only way to expand mortgage lending.

In other words, mortgage credit for borrowers under 620 FICO score is expanding at the fastest pace since Dodd-Frank and The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were created in 2010.

Elizabeth Warren, architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 

Commercial Mortgage Originations Suffer First YoY Decline Since 2007 (C&I Lending Growth Dropping)

Yes, commercial mortgage originations suffered the first YoY decline since 2007.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association 4Q 2016 commercial real estate loan originations survey, mortgage originations related to discretionary segments of the economy are in complete free fall with retail and hotel volumes down 19% and 39%, respectively4Q16CMFOriginationsSurvey

A decrease in originations for hotel, health care, and retail properties led the overall decline in commercial/multifamily lending volumes when compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. The fourth quarter saw a 39 percent year-over-year decrease in the dollar volume of loans for hotel properties, a 24 percent decrease for health care properties, a 19 percent decrease for retail properties, a 4 percent decrease for industrial properties, a one percent decrease in multifamily property loans, and a 6 percent increase in office property loans.

At least commercial and industrial lending at commercial banks has positive YoY growth rate (although plunging like a paralyzed falcon).

Of course, the retail store closings are problematic.

Say, I wonder if Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen bought her scarf on line or at a brick and mortar retail store?

Zillow:10.5% National Negative Equity Share Declining (But Chicago And Las Vegas Have 2X National Rate)

According to Zillow (and their methodogy for calculating “underwater mortgage loans”), US negative equity hit 10.5% in Q4 2016. That is a considerable improvement of the peak of 31.4% in Q1 2012.

But more than 55 percent of all homeowners in negative equity nationwide were underwater by more than 20 percent as of the end of Q4.

Where are the negative equity “zones”? Not on the West Coast. The West Coast is home to all five major metros with the lowest rates of negative equity. As of the end of 2016, Las Vegas and Chicago had the highest rates of negative equity among the largest U.S. metros, with 16.6 and 16.5 percent of homeowners underwater, respectively.

How about EFFECTIVE negative equity rates? Even though a borrower may barely be in positive territory, brokerage fees (say 6%) on sales can push the homeowner into negative territory. The national average for EFFECTIVE negative equity still exceeds 25%.

Let’s compare Washington DC with Prince Georges County in Maryland. The share of homes with a mortgage in negative equity is almost double in PG County compared with DC. The same holds true for the shares in EFFECT negative equity (that is exactly double the rate of Washington DC).

To show how much Phoenix AZ has improved in terms of negative equity, Phoenix now has the same negative equity share as Washington DC: 10.5% and the US. But Maricopa County has a larger EFFECTIVE negative equity share of 27.3%.

But how about Chicago, home of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs? Negative equity in Chicago is even worse than it is in Prince Georges County in Maryland!

How about Lackawanna County, PA, the home of Scranton and the Dunder-Miflin regional sales office? Even worse negative equity problems than Chicago!!

The WORST negative equity county in the US? Pulaski County in Missouri, home of the US Army’s Fort Leonard Wood with a 47.4% share of negative equity mortgages and  76.1% share of EFFECTIVE negative equity mortgages.

Despite the improvement of negative equity in the US, a number of counties (many rural) are still struggling which is an impediment to both mortgage refinancing and mortgage purchase lending despite near-record low mortgage rates.

Bubble? Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Rise at Fastest Pace Since 2014 (But Wage Growth Is Terrible)

Bloomberg has an interesting article on rapidly rising home prices.  Despite the fact that US wage growth has been terrible since the Great Recession and is now (depending on how you measure it) 4 times lower than home price growth.

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities climbed in the 12 months through January at the fastest pace since July 2014, while nationwide the increase in property values also accelerated, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data reported Tuesday.

Key Points

  • 20-city property values index rose 5.7 percent from January 2016 (forecast was 5.6 percent) after increasing 5.5 percent in the year through December
  • National home-price gauge increased 5.9 percent in the 12 months through January
  • Seasonally adjusted 20-city index advanced 0.9 percent from a month earlier (forecast was 0.7 percent)

Big Picture

Lean housing inventory helps explain why home prices are appreciating at more than twice the rate of inflation and wage growth, an impediment to an even bigger advance in housing demand. That’s making it difficult for some Americans to transition from renter to homeowner, a reason investors remain a big part of the market as they purchase properties and convert them to rental units.

Economist Takeaways

“Tight supplies and rising prices may be deterring some people from trading up to a larger house, further aggravating supplies because fewer people are selling their homes,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement. “The prices also hurt affordability as higher prices and mortgage rates shrink the number of households that can afford to buy at current price levels.”

The Details

  • All 20 cities in the index showed year-over-year gains, led by an 11.3 percent advance in Seattle and a 9.7 percent increase in Portland, Oregon
  • After seasonal adjustment, Seattle had the biggest month-over-month rise at 1.7 percent, followed by a 1.3 percent increase in Chicago; home prices fell 0.1 percent in Cleveland

This Bloomberg chart shows that median home price growth is not quite 4x wage growth.

My “homebrewed” chart shows that it a similar effect except I show the decline in the volume of mortgage originations to borrowers with a credit score below 620.

Anyway you want it, home price growth is beating the tar out of wage growth .. but any metric.

Has the robot monster (aka, The Fed) helped create a home price bubble with its uber-accomodative monetary policies that did not help wage growth?

Yes, The Robot Monster (Federal Reserve and other Central Banks) stalks the earth.

 

Jurassic Banking: Shadow Banking Is Getting Bigger Without Getting Better

There is an interesting article on Bloomberg entitled “Shadow Banking Is Getting Bigger Without Getting Better” 

Taxi companies that compete with Uber and media companies that are up against Facebook know it: In a rivalry between regulated and unregulated firms, the latter have an unfair advantage. It also applies to banks, which spent the past ten years losing market share to companies that regulators ignored.

In a fresh working paper, Greg Buchak and Gregor Matvos of the University of Chicago, Tomasz Piskorski of Columbia Business School and Stanford’s Amit Seru calculated that between 2007 and 2015, so-called shadow banks have increased their share of the U.S. Federal Housing Administration mortgage market sevenfold to 75 percent. That’s the market where the less creditworthy borrowers get their loans. In the U.S. mortgage market as a whole, shadow banks held a 38 percent share in 2015, compared with 14 percent in 2007.

This is not really surprising since non-depository financial institutions have risen in force thanks in part to Washington DC’s penchant for trying to regulate anything that moves (Dodd-Frank, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, etc.) But the growth of “shadow banks” is also linked to a growth in more risky FHA-insured loans.

And with FHA-insured loans having 4 times the serious delinquency rate than loans purchased by GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, this is represents a dramatic shift in banking and risk taking.

As Gerald Hanweck and I showed in a recent paper, bank failures following the housing bubble and financial crisis boomed in  2009 and 2010. Most of these bank failures were small banks. This resulted in bank aggregation into progressively larger banks. These were failures of depository institutions and shadow banks (non-depository institutions like Quicken Loans) have stepped in with riskier loan profiles.

The result? The rise of the mega-banks.

As Professor Ian Malcolm said in the movie Jurassic Park, life will find a way. Including subprime lending. Welcome to Jurassic Park, where Senator Elizabeth Warren and CFPB Director Richard Cordray still believe that they can control the banking system.