The Mortgage Corner
Calculated Risk reports Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS) released their Mortgage Monitor report for February on Monday. According to BKFS, 5.36 percent of mortgages were delinquent in February, down from 5.56 percent in January. BKFS reported that 1.58 percent of mortgages were in the foreclosure process, down from 2.22 percent in February 2014. This is approaching historical lows for delinquencies, and should mean a very good year for housing.
February’s delinquency rate, while still 17 percent above the pre-crisis norm of 4.6 percent, was down 49 percent from its January 2010 peak of 10.6 percent. And at 1.58 percent, the foreclosure rate remained 175 percent above precrisis norms, but was still down 63 percent from its October 2011 peak, reports Black Knight.
This breaks down as:
· 1,646,000 properties less than 90 days past due, but not in foreclosure.
· 1,067,000 properties that are 90 or more days delinquent, but not in foreclosure.
· 800,000 loans in foreclosure process.
It also means last week’s jump in Pending Home Sales was no fluke, as lower delinquency rates mean more homes with positive equity are increasing housing inventories. The National Association of Realtors Pending Sales Index is at its highest level since June 2013 (109.4), has increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and is above 100 – considered an average level of activity – for the 10th consecutive month.
So what will happen in 2015? Mortgage applications have also jumped, particularly purchase applications, as we said last week. "There was a broad based increase in mortgage applications last week (April 1) relative to the week prior. The increase in purchase volume was led by a nearly 6 percent increase in both conventional and government markets, perhaps signaling that households are finally ready to begin the home-buying season," said Lynn Fisher, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics.
But that is largely because of still record low interest rates. The Fed wants to begin to raise interest rates sometime this year, but growth has slowed recently, due to the another severe winter, and a soaring dollar value that hurts exports. So the latest words from the Fed Governors are that low interest rates should be around for a while longer.
New York Fed Governor William Dudley said as much recently. “…as Chair Yellen remarked in her most recent press conference, removal of “patient” from the statement does not indicate that we will be “impatient” to begin to normalize monetary policy. Rather, the timing of normalization will be data dependent and remains uncertain because the future evolution of the economy cannot be fully anticipated.”
The housing market will have a very good year, according to Core Logic’s 2015 housing forecast. “The U.S. economy is poised to grow by close to 3 percent in 2015, generating a 3- to 3.5-million-person gain in employment,” said Core Logic chief economist Frank Nothaft. “This job growth, coupled with very low mortgage interest rates and some easing in credit access, is expected to propel both owner-occupant and rental housing activity this year. This heightened level of housing demand should translate to the best home sales market in eight years.”
Let us hope the Fed remains patient for first-time homebuyers that require affordable loan rates, in particular, and are just now entering the housing market.
Harlan Green © 2015
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