As policy interest rates continue to rise and economic activity begins to slow, attention in the mortgage market shifts towards concerns about the potential for borrower distress. We are early in this process as the labor market continues to add jobs, and there continue to be more job openings than people looking for work. Nonetheless, signs of strain begin to be seen, and it's worthwhile to point out early trends and consider implications.
Notably, the impact of Hurricane Ian could be seen in the short-term delinquency data:
In previous posts, we discussed the trends in Ginnie Mae MBS issuance by loan purpose. Recall that the decision to buy a loan out of a Ginnie pool rests with the servicer. As such, this decision is dependent in part on environmental factors that impact the profitability of this action, notably the interest rate. As loans get bought out at par, there is a greater incentive to purchase loans out of pools and get them into reperforming status when rates are low than when they are high. This relationship can be clearly seen in the following graphs:
The rise in mortgage rates is having a profound impact on lender strategies in the mortgage market. These can be seen by looking at trends in the use of Third-Party Originators (TPOs). Some lenders, such as Quicken, traditionally work almost exclusively with loans originated in-house, while others, such as PennyMac, primarily accumulate and package loans produced by other lenders. Most larger institutions do some of both. The advantage of acquiring loans from a mortgage broker or correspondent in addition to origination is that the lender has flexibility regarding what method they use to turn volumes up and down to fit its strategy and market views. In both cases, there are costs to increasing and cutting capacity. As the market grows, bringing on new employees carries expenses such as training, while building trusted new external relationships can also be time-consuming. As markets contract, there are direct costs to layoffs, while unwinding networks can impact relationships that can be difficult to rebuild when the cycle turns. Of course, in a sufficiently bad market, the company may have no choice but to cut back.
Recently there have been some high-profile announcements of layoffs across the mortgage lending space, but through the first half of 2022, the reported decline in employment has been modest. But employment tends to lag interest rates, so further declines cannot be ruled out.
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:
With the 30-year mortgage rate surging to a 13-year high near 5 ¼% and the FHFA purchase-only house price index at a record-high 19.42% in February (edging out the prior record of 19.39% in July 2021), we are in an unprecedented environment in the mortgage market. As such, it makes sense to update our analysis of the trend in issuance updated through April. Of particular interest in this regard are the FHA and VA programs.
Let’s start by looking at FHA. By loan count, there were 107,500 FHA loans issued in GNM pools in April, with a decline of over 1/3 from the same month a year earlier. One special interest is the evolution of the share of issuance by loan purpose:
With the expiration of forbearance programs underway, there is an interesting question about how loans exiting these programs will perform once they are resecuritized. For Ginnie Mae programs, these are either loans that exit forbearance with a partial claim or receive a permanent mod under the various waterfall options in the FHA or VA programs. In our previous blogs, we have noted MOD and RG loans are becoming a significant portion of loans delivered to newly issued Ginnie Mae pools.
Agency-based Metrics for Assessing the Resolution of Mortgage Forbearance and Delinquencies (Part I– Government Programs)
In a fine recent paper, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia “highlights the immediacy of the challenges facing mortgage servicers and policymakers” that arise from the resolution of mortgage forbearance and delinquencies. As of the time of writing, the Philly Fed stated that “some 2.73 million mortgages are either in forbearance or past due; about 0.78 million of those are in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act forbearance plans”. In addition, “about 47 percent of loans in forbearance will expire in the first quarter of 2022; another 42 percent will expire in the second quarter”. They go on to discuss recent trends and provide data on income and demographics of these borrowers.
The point of this brief article is to look at secondary market indicators to shed additional light on these issues. The note is broken into two parts, the first looks at Government programs, notably FHA and VA, while the second looks at the GSEs.
On June 25, 2021, Ginnie Mae announced the creation of a new pool type C-ET that consists of modified loans with original terms greater than 361 months and less than or equal to 480 months. The Custom pool design implies that each pool is created by a single issuer. Other custom pools are limited to 360-month maturities, so this structure is designed to enhance liquidity for these borrowers. 7 such pools were issued in December 2021, and 1 in January 2022 so far. The 8 pools have only 13 loans, from 3 issuers. 8 out the 13 loans are Rural loans, 5 are VA.
Once again, Ginnie Mae has provided the market with new investment opportunities, and analysts with the opportunity to learn about how markets behave under long-term timeframes.