New Home Sales Slow In June, Still Stuggling To Recover After Housing Bubble

New home sales rose, but modestly disappointed in June (610k vs 615k exp) with a small downward revision to May.

New home sales continue to climb … back to pre-housing bubble levels.of the early 1990s as do mortgage purchase applications.

Although the median price for new home sales fell over 4% in June, they are still up 52.2% since October 2010.

Remember all the cheerleading from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) last week ove the massive surge in mortgage refinancing applications? In reality, refi applications are stuck in a rut since the last increase in mortgage rates.

Yes, we are still picking up the trash from the housing and credit bubble of the last decade.

The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet. Sort of.

Case-Shiller Home Prices Rise 1% In May (5.6% YoY), Seattle Leads At 13.3% YoY

Home prices keep on rising. According to the S&P Case Shiller repeat sales index, home prices rose 1% in May and 5.6% YoY.

But the Case-Shiller home price index continues to grow at over twice that of inflation and wage growth.

The biggest winner? Seattle. The slowest growing? Cleveland, Chicago and Washington DC.

West coast home prices really took after after The Fed’s third round of quanitative easing (QE3).

westcs

Why Fannie Mae’s 50% DTI For Mortgages Won’t Get To 100,000 Loans

The mortgage giant Fannie Mae reecently raised their Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio from 45% to 50%. The Urban Institute, a left-wing think tank, claimed in a study by Ed Golding and Laurie Goodman that this increase in DTI will increase mortgage lending by 100,000 (mostly to minorities). fannie_mae_raises_dti_limit_0

While Golding and Goodman are very intelligent people, they have forgotten one economic rule: lower credit standards can’t compensate for lack of savings and lack of earnings.

Wage growth (average hourly earnings) and personal savings rate are lower today than they were pre-1980. And wage growth never quite recovered from The Great Recession, although the personal savings rate is higher.

Unfortunately, while homeownership has correlated with home prices from 1995 through 2005, home prices have been rising since 2012 while homeownership has declined.

According to the US Census, black alone homeownership in Q1 2017 is estimated to be 42.7% while white alone is 71.8%. Hispanic homeownership rate is 46.6%. A clear gap between races in homeownership.

With low wage growth and low personal savings rates, it will be hard to raise homeownership rates among minorities unless there is a corresponding increase in loan-to-value (LTV) ratios and/or a decline in required credit (FICO) scores.

The Abduction of the Sabine Women

sabinewomen

The 50% Solution: Fannie Mae DTI Increase To 50% Could Add 95K Borrowers Each Year

Fannie Mae has opened the credit floodgates a bit by expanding their Debt-to-income (DTI) hurdle for borrowers from 45% to 50%. According to the Urban Institute, this change could lead to nearly 95,000 new mortgage borrowers.

Here is the story from Originator Times:

As the GSEs seek to ease access to credit and allow more homebuyers into the market, Urban Institute pointed out one change that could allow nearly 100,000 new homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage each year.

Earlier this year, mortgage giant Fannie Mae announced it was raising its debt-to-income ratio to further expand mortgage lending. The GSE raised its limit up to 50%, up from the previous limit of 45%. Even under the only limit, Fannie Mae allowed for flexibility up to 50% DTI for certain case files with strong compensation factors.

However, that flexibility was almost always offered to mortgages with loan-to-value rations lower than 80%. This new increase is significant as increasingly, 3% down payments are becoming the new normal, even on conventional loans.

Urban Institute estimated that 95,000 new loans will be approved each year due to Fannie Mae’s DTI increase, it stated in a report written by Edward Golding, Laurie Goodman and Jun Zhu.

The report also explained a disproportionate share of the new loans will go toward black and Latino families as they are 1.5 times more likely to have DTI ratios above 45%.The new loans will also be riskier as the probability the mortgage will fall into default increased 31% for those with DTI ratios between 45% and 50% when compared with the median DTI level of 35%.

The increase in the DTI ratio will also allow Fannie Mae to purchase 3.4% more loans. Fannie Mae estimated that between 3% and 4% of recent applications were approved by the AUS and held DTI rations between 45% and 50%, but were ineligible due to additional overlays. (From Golding, Goodman and Zhu [2017]).

The Urban Institute has a table showing that Fannie Mae has a history of purchasing high DTI loans (>45%) from originators, although that number has declined after the housing bubble burst (2010-16).

In terms of default risk (90 days and greater late payments), higher DTI loans are more risky as are higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans. The hazard ratio is relative to DTI ratios of 25% or less.

Conclusion? Higher DTI loans are more risky but allow more minority borrowers into homeownership. What is missing from the Urban Institute study is the possible impact of deflating home prices (again) and a rise in unemployment (a repeat of the 2007-2009 housing and financial crisis).

Several lenders around the US are already originating 100% LTV home loans like Navy Federal Credit Union. 

Let us hope that the wave of higher DTI and LTV lending (along with lowering of FICO scores) doesn’t lead to a repeat of the US experience from 1995-2007.

 

The Hangover: US Economy Still Suffers From The Housing Bubble Burst And Bad DC Policies

Bloomberg View has an interesting editorial entitled, “Yes, Financial Crises Do Bring Hangovers.”

In an essay making the rounds this week, four prominent academic economists and former government officials argue that something needs to be done to accelerate the pace of what they call “the weakest economic expansion since World War II.” Their recipe for speeding things up is lower taxes and less entitlement spending, and I’m not going to get into whether that’s really such a good idea, in part because I imagine lots of other people will take up that argument and in part because I just don’t know the answer.

But I was struck by the second paragraph of the piece, written by John F. Cogan, Glenn Hubbard, John B. Taylor and Kevin Warsh, 1 which goes like this:

We do not share the view that the recent period of weak economic growth was simply an inevitable result of the financial crisis. Economic recoveries tend to be stronger after deep recessions, and any residual headwinds from the crisis should have long been remedied had progrowth policies been adopted. Historically, some post-crisis periods are marked by lower economic growth, but we believe that the poor conduct of economic policy bears much of that burden.

It turns out both sides are correct. The housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis contributed to a weak recovery. And then economic policies following the housing bubble collapse focued on financial regulation and a terrible healthcare bill (aka, Obamacare) rather than creating economic growth.

The root cause of the financial crisis was the massive (and unsustainable) expansion of credit, particularly for real estate loans.  Thanks in part to 1) regulations such as Dodd-Frank and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 2) a hangover from too much credit, real estate lending growth continues to be lower than any other recovery since World War II.

Commercial and industrial lending YoY is approaching recession levels.

And M2 Money Velolcity (GDP/Money Stock) continues to decline to the lowest level in modern times reflecting the stagnant GDP growth coupled with massive expansion of money stock.

Two examples of “The Hangover” are the 1) historically low levels of new homes sold and 2) the worst wage recovery since 1965.

Add into that the repression of bank deposit rates courtesy of Greenspan, Bernanke and Yelle, and we have a dismal recovery.

And lest we forget, the GINI index of income inequality increases after every recession, regardless of President and Congressional majorities.

Yes, the poor recovery of the US economy is a product of 1) hangover from the housing bubble and financial crisis, and 2) poor economic policies eminating from Washington DC.

Oh Canada! Toronto Existing Home Sales Plunge 37% YoY

OTTAWA, July 17 (Reuters) – The resale of Canadian homes fell 6.7 percent in June from May, the largest monthly drop since 2010 and the third straight monthly decline as sales in Toronto plunged, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Monday.

And they fell 37%, the third straight decline and the most since January 2009. Owners flooded the market with properties, with listings up 16 percent to 19,614.

Average prices dropped 14 percent in the last three months across the Toronto region to C$793,915, reflecting fewer sales of large homes. That compares with a 1 percent rise over the same period last year. Deals for single-family homes in Toronto and its surrounding regions fell 45 percent and average prices dropped 12 percent from April to C$1.06 million.

For all of Canada, YoY existing home sales also declined. But only by 6.7% MoM.

Moody’s Down Grades Hartford CT As Wage-to-Cost Of Living Gap Drives Household Debt Growth

Despite what is touted by the Federal Reserve (debt is good!), states and municipalities are drowning in debt. As are US households.

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the City of Hartford, CT’s general obligation debt rating to B2 from Ba2. The outlook is negative.

The Hartford General Obligation bond is at 6.971% based on $82.768.

The rating was placed under review for possible downgrade on May 30, 2017. The par amount of debt affected totals approximately $550 million.

The downgrade reflects the increased likelihood that the city will pursue debt restructurings to address its fiscal challenges. Last week, the city hired a law firm to advise it on debt restructurings. City management has made public statements indicating they will need to have discussions with bondholders about restructuring its debt regardless of the outcome of the state’s biennial budget as debt service costs escalate sharply leading to budget deficits over the next five years.

The rating also reflects the city’s challenging liquidity outlook in the current fiscal year and weak prospects for achievement of sustainably balanced financial operations. The city currently projects a fiscal 2018 deficit of $50 million and is seeking incremental funding from the state to close that gap. The state has not yet adopted a budget specifying aid for the city for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Even if the state’s biennial budget allocates sufficient funds to address the current and following years deficits and create a fiscal oversight structure, the budget is still unlikely to provide a pathway to structural balance over the longer term. City deficits, partially attributable to escalating debt service costs, are projected to grow to $83 million by 2023, making the city’s weak financial position vulnerable to further deterioration.

Rating Outlook

The negative outlook reflects the possibility that the city will restructure its debt in a way that will impair bondholders. The outlook also incorporates uncertainty over state funding in the current fiscal year and beyond and the associated impact on reserves, liquidity and the ability to achieve sustainably balanced operations.

That is the City of Hartford that is in trouble due to excessive debt relative to tax receipts. But what about US households?

The rising cost of living relative to wage growth is leading to excessive debt use to maintain a standard of living.