2022 HMDA is Out!
The cherry blossoms are blooming, which means it’s time for the HMDA preliminary data set to be released. The dataset provides a social underpinning to the nation’s mortgage market and enhances our understanding of the behavior of borrowers and lenders. The 2022 dataset has been particularly eagerly awaited, as we get our view on the new world of high inflation and mortgage rates for the first time in decades. We start with origination volumes and get not just confirmation of the onset of mortgage winter, but some breakdown of its characteristics.
The Severity of Mortgage Winter
In recent posts, we introduced the phrase “Mortgage Winter” to describe the current environment where high-interest rates and elevated home prices lead to a severe drop in transaction volumes. Subsequently, we looked at the impact of this situation on individual market participants. The bulk of market participants across the mortgage ecosystem is experiencing year/year revenue declines of two-thirds or more. These entities are having to adjust their business models to this situation and develop strategies to navigate the uncertain environment ahead.
Spring will come, but whether the ensuing rebound will be sufficient to return the sector to a state of financial health is a question that remains far from assured. There is also another factor to consider besides revenue, and that is the potential for increased servicing costs associated with delinquent borrowers.
Digging into GSE Buyouts
Growing concerns about a looming recession combined with increasing signs of distress in Government mortgage programs, particularly FHA, are leading many market participants to step up their focus on GSE buyouts. These found a recent peak last winter as forbearance programs unwound and have been in a generally declining trend since that time.
Mortgage Winter II
In a recent post, we spoke about how the current market environment of high interest and home prices is leading to downward pressure on both supply and demand in the housing market, a situation we call "Mortgage Winter". While this environment is unlikely to result in a severe recession such as the Global Financial Crisis, there is the potential for broad fallout associated with distress in the lender and broker markets.
First, we look at the originations.
The count of loans that were delivered to the three agencies dropped by 68% from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022:
Usually, when we talk about financial institutions in our posts, we focus on sellers and/or servicers as we have a clear view from the Agency disclosures. An interesting distinction in this regard is to break down originations between those sourced through a retail channel within the lending institutions and those purchased from other lenders, known as third-party originations (TPOs). We are often asked the question in the case of TPO lending, where only sponsors of the mortgages are reported, who are the originators? This information is not reported in the agency loan-level disclosure. We can supplement this information by examining originators in the HMDA data by observing the fact a TPO (correspondent or broker) loan is often reported twice, one record reported by the originator and another reported by the sponsor. At Recursion, we conducted an exercise by matching the pairs together, and we were able to identify the counterparty pairs for about 50% of the mortgages marked as “purchased”, and also made this revealing data point to our HMDA Analyzer users.
According to the 2021 HMDA preliminary release, about 2.65 million loans were purchased from other lenders that year, about 18% of all originations. Roughly half of these purchases were made by 10 institutions:
While the Fed has clearly been the dominant player in the MBS market for the last 13 ½ years, the consistent biggest holders of MBS have been the banks. When the Federal Reserve launched its QE program in late 2008, banks held about 16% of the outstanding balance at the time, and that share has more than doubled as of Q1 2022 to stand at about one-third of the total. In a recent blog, we dug into the details behind international investor behavior with an ancillary dataset, for the banks, we look for guidance from the Call Reports.
The Call Reports provide details on portfolio holdings of individual banks across financial asset categories (e.g., equities and bonds) for both loans and securities. For the purposes of this note, we just look at securities. What makes bank behavior so challenging to assess is that various types of policy actions have profound impacts on their investment decisions. To begin, we look at the share of residential agency MBS out of total bank assets, including both pass-through securities and CMOs:
In a recent post, we discussed findings obtained with the recent release of 2021 HMDA data. Among other things, we looked at the share of mortgage originations by income group and product type. In this note, we look at the difference in lending patterns between the banks and nonbanks.
The incentive behind this approach is policy driven. There is a long history of measures taken to encourage lenders and builders to foster economic development in low-income areas via the housing market. For example, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) stipulates that a bank’s performance with regards to compliance of their regulatory requirements depends in part on:
“the geographic distribution of loans—that is, the proportion of the bank's total loans made within its assessment area; how these loans are distributed among low-, moderate-, middle-, and upper income locations”
To assess this issue, we assign a flag to each of the census tracts designated by HUD as having a greater than 51% share of households with incomes in the Low-to-Moderate (LMI) range in the larger MSA the tract is part of, which are called LMI area by HUD, or “low income” tracts by FHFA. Below find a chart of the 10-year trend in the share of loans originated in this category by institution type for conventional and FHA loans:
2021 HMDA Takeaways
On March 24, the CFPB released HMDA data for 2021, with results obtained from 4,316 reporters, little changed from 4,472 reporters in 2020, but well below the 5,505 respondents reached in 2019. There are yet more companies are expected to report to 2021 HMDA. However, our experience from previous year indicates little change in big picture when reporting is finalized. The drop reported in the number of reporters in 2020 vs 2019 is largely due to a reduction in the number of loans that a bank needed to underwrite, requiring a report to be filed starting in 2020.
This data is used for market sizing by regulators and market participants, but it also represents a treasure trove of information regarding lender and consumer behavior across a wide variety of economic and market regimes. 2021 was notable for being the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is associated with expansive monetary and fiscal policies and surging house prices.
This report will briefly assess trends across a variety of topics.
After surging by 47% in 2020 to 24.8 million from 2019, the number of loan activities reported in 2021 HMDA ticked up by just 2% to 25.2 million, almost 40% below the record high 41.5 million attained in 2003. Similarly, the number of loans originated reported in 2020 jumped by 57% from the prior year to 14.2 million, while in 2021 the figure rose by only 3% to 14.6 million, down by about one-third from the 2003 peak of 21.4 million.