The recent unprecedented surge in home prices to a record 18% jump on a year-year basis as measured by the FHFA purchase-only index brings affordability front and center to the current housing policy debates. In May 2021, indexed home prices stood 15.5% above indexed aggregate earned income, a bit less than half of the peak house price overvaluation of 29.0% reached in December 2005, just before the onset of the Global Financial Crisis.
The topic of affordability is very broad, and will be the subject of much further commentary, but in this post we look briefly at this topic through the distribution of the purchase mortgage market across securitization agencies, notably FHA and the GSE’s.
Looking at the distribution between the GSEs and FHA is informative in this issue because the FHA program is aimed at low-income borrowers. According to 2020 HMDA data, the weighted average household income for FHA borrowers of purchase mortgages was $85K while for those in conforming mortgages the figure was $228K.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, the share of FHA purchase mortgages of the total delivered to agency pools as been in general decline, on both a loan count and outstanding balance basis:
With a base consisting of relatively lower-income borrowers, it makes sense that the borrowers in this program are struggling to qualify for loans in a skyrocketing market. To check this out, we calculate the change in the distribution of loans between FHA and the GSE programs by original loan sizes:
Intuitively, larger loans comprise a greater share of the distribution of purchase loans in both programs between January 2020 and July 2021.
Over this period, FHA lost a bit over 5% in market share to the GSE’s in this category. The change in share by loan size bucket and the contribution of each of these to the total loss in share is given below:
In fact, it turns out that about three quarters of the loss in FHA’s purchase market share comes from losses in loan sizes less than $250,000. Further analysis is needed to look at the fundamental and structural factors that are behind this result.
 In this case we view the total as FHA + GSE