While market commentary is focused on developments such as inflation and house price increases, the key housing policy issues in the post-Covid world are financial inclusion and climate change. Our agency loan-level data provide us with many insights into market trends, but these do not contain demographic or geological details that are necessary to perform in-depth analysis in these areas.
On the topic of financial inclusion, the key supplemental data set is the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) dataset, an annual disclosure made by lenders in support of fair lending. HMDA data contains relevant data points such as income, gender, and race. Any assessment of fair lending practices requires an analysis of how these factors influence the availability of credit. To accomplish this, Recursion has applied a proprietary matching algorithm to create a robust dataset consisting of loans with both underwriting and demographic characteristics. Over the period 2008 – 2020 the data set consists of about 20 million loans. Below finds a chart of average credit scores by race (as measured by race of the first borrower) over the 2008 – 2020 period from this matched data set:
On March 30, FHA released its Quarterly Report to Congress on FHA Single-Family Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund Programs for Q4 2020. The report shows that the MMI fund grew to $82.3 billion from $79.9 billion the prior quarter. However, the year-to-date actual net loss rate on claim activity of 35.2% is higher than the projection of 30.1% percent, as the portfolio-level serious delinquency rate increased in the quarter to 11.9%, from 11.6% percent last quarter. Consequently, Secretary Fudge in a statement indicated stated that “Given the current FHA delinquency crisis and our duty to manage risks and the overall health of the fund, we have no near-term plans to change FHA’s mortgage insurance premium pricing.”
As we have noted previously, the Covid-19 crisis is very distinct from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) insofar as while both periods experienced high delinquency rates, house prices now are soaring as opposed to collapsing in the earlier crisis.
In a recent post, we discussed the relative performance of loans with property inspection waivers vs those with traditional appraisals that qualified for a waiver. We commented that the observed out-performance of loans with waivers as measured by lower total delinquency rates (DQs) was likely influenced by relatively tighter lending standards (eg higher credit scores, lower DTI) for these loans compared to eligible loans that received a traditional waiver.
A fully rigorous examination of this issue would be an extensive undertaking outside the scope of these brief posts. But let’s do a quick example as a demonstration of what our tools can produce along these lines. To make for an apple-to-apple comparison, below find two grids containing the difference between the total delinquency rates for purchase loans with PIWs compared to those that are eligible but obtain a traditional appraisal. The first is for loans originated in 2019 and the second is for those originated in 2020:
We find that PIW’s are more extensively used in 2020 than in 2019. In addition, in 2019 the range of PIW takeup across cells was 8%-13%, while for 2020 it was 14%-28%. In both cases, takeup tends to rise with credit score. Lenders appear to be more willing to allow a waiver for borrowers with better credit.
For 2019, there are a number of outliers, but there is no clear pattern across the grid. Many lenders were just beginning to implement their waiver programs that year. By 2020, PIWs became a standard part of the toolkit. For most of the center of the grid, loans with waivers very slightly outperform those eligible loans using appraisals. Bigger outperformance can be seen, however, along the edges, i.e. loans with credit scores less than 720, and DTIs greater than 47. It appears it is not the waiver itself that leads to outperformance, but likely that underwriters are more careful and pay more attention in general to these riskier classes of loans.
Further work would look at performance across the largest servicers, and by state.
In a recent post, we discussed our comment letter to FHFA regarding policies and procedures related to property inspection wavers (PIWs). In that note we commented that one of the best ways to assess the impact of the program is to look at the performance of loans with appraisal waivers vs those eligible to obtain waivers but did not. At the time the note was posted (late February 2021) the loan-level data needed to perform such a calculation was not available, so we used a sample obtained from the reference loans in the pools used by the Fannie Mae Connecticut Avenue Security (CAS) Credit Risk Transfer (CRT) program.
Earlier this month we obtained the loan level DQ data for the books of the GSEs as of the end of February 2021 so a more comprehensive analysis is now possible. As stated in the comment letter, the eligibility rules to obtain a PIW vary by product type and agency, so to obtain an apples-to-apples comparison we need to look at the performance of loans with waivers against those that are eligible to use them but did not, as opposed to all loans. Since waivers are generally a recent development, we look at performance for loans originated in 2019 and 2020.
The release of loan-level dq data by the GSEs opens the door for much new analysis. In today’s blog we will look at servicer type. Below find a table of average DQ’s for each available type, along with average levels of underwriting characteristics:
It’s interesting to note that banks tend to service loans with a modestly higher total DQ rate than the “Nonbank Other” category. The table also shows that banks have a tighter credit box with respect to credit score (higher) and DTI (lower) than nonbanks but have a more generous appetite for higher LTV loans.
The data also presents financial analysts and strategists with a great deal of information about the performance of individual institutions. As an example, we look at the 100 largest servicers from the bank and “nonbank other” category (known as “nonbanks” from now on). There are 43 banks and 57 nonbanks in this group. The charts below plot total DQ’s vs credit score and DTI for each servicer type. Comparing different points or a single point vs trend lines can provide useful insights regarding the competitive landscape.
Of course, these charts just scratch the surface of what is possible here.
Our last post demonstrated that Fannie Mae performance at the pool level has been lagging that of Freddie Mac since the start of the pandemic. The question remains as to why. The challenge in answering this question is that unlike the case for Ginnie Mae programs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not been releasing performance data on the loan level. Those who subscribe to our monthly risk reports know that we have been tracking relative underwriting standards between the two mortgage giants for some time. We do this not by looking at the average levels of underwriting characteristics, but rather at looking at the tails of these characteristics. Our experience is that this is a far superior method for this as distinct policy about risk come in much clearer this way. We focus on the share of GSE deliveries with LTV>95, DTI>45, and credit score<680.
As we have commented several times, the Federal Reserve Z.1 data is a fine source of information on long-term financial market trends. This post looks at trends in ownership of single-family mortgage risk. The chart below shows this distribution from Q1 2007 to Q3 2020: