Morning Report: Foreclosure starts lowest in 18 years

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2720 4
Eurostoxx index 362.25 3.31
Oil (WTI) 54.26 -0.3
10 year government bond yield 2.70%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.40%

 

Stocks are higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat.

 

Donald Trump stressed bipartisanship and unity at the State of the Union address, and reiterated his demands for border wall funding but stopped short of invoking emergency powers to get one built. Predictably, the reaction to the speech fell along partisan lines.

 

Mortgage Applications fell 2.5% last week as purchases fell 5% and refis rose 0.3%. This was a disappointment given that rates fell about 7 basis points, however the prior week had the MLK holiday adjustment so maybe there is some technical adjustment noise happening. Despite lower rates on a YOY basis, applications are down about 2% annually.

 

The service sector continued to grow in January, albeit at a slower pace, according to the ISM Non-Manufacturing Report. Some of this may have been government shutdown-driven. Employment rose, while new orders fell.

 

Foreclosure starts in 2018 decreased to 576,000, the lowest level in 18 years. Foreclosure completions were 175,000, another 18 year low. These numbers are 40% below their pre-recession averages. Higher loan quality in the aftermath of the credit crisis is a contributing factor, however the performance of refinances are better than purchases, which also is driving these numbers.

 

Housing reform and CFPB regulations may be headed for a conflict if what is called the “GSE patch” is not renewed when it expires in 2021. The CFPB discourages loans with debt to income ratios above 43%, but also permits GSE backed loans to fall under the QM umbrella, even though they permit DTIs up to 50%. Roughly a third of GSE loans fall in the 43-50% DTI range, which could become non-QM loans once the patch expires. The Urban Institute recommends that the GSEs replace the DTI rule with a 150 basis point cap over APOR to determine eligibility under QM.

 

Home prices rose 0.1% MOM and 4.7% YOY according to CoreLogic. Since house prices have been rising faster than incomes, affordability has suffered. Falling interest rates masked that issue most of the post-crisis period, but the music has stopped. CoreLogic now estimates that 33% of the housing stock in the US is now overvalued.  Separately, Redfin now estimates that the West Coast is a buyer’s market.

 

Corelogic overvalued

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Morning Report: Construction employment increases

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P futures 2820.75 8.75
Eurostoxx index 388.15 3.27
Oil (WTI) 68.28 0.39
10 Year Government Bond Yield 2.96%
30 Year fixed rate mortgage 4.56%

Stocks are higher this morning after China instituted measures to stimulate the economy. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Bonds sold off hard (yields rose) in response to news out of Japan that their central bank would adjust their interest rate target for the 10 year bond. The Japanese Central bank targets 0% for the yield on their 10 year, and some market participants believe it would be about 30 basis points if it was allowed to float freely. Japanese yields rose the most in 2 years, dragging Euro yields and US yields with them. Remember this whenever you read these articles in the press about the slope of the yield curve and the forecast for a recession. The yield curve is so manipulated by central banks globally that it is hard to draw any conclusions from prices.

Manufacturing activity increased in July, according the Markit Flash PMI, but we are seeing price pressures – in fact pricing pressures were the highest on record (going back to 2009). Input prices (fuel, staff and metals) drove the increase, although the root cause is mainly tariff-driven. Meanwhile, the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey was flat but solidly expansionary.

Foreclosure starts fell to 43,500 in June, which is the lowest number in 17 years. Active foreclosures fell below 300,000 for the first time in 12 years. Total delinquencies edged up, but are down on a YOY basis. The foreclosure crisis is about wrapped up, although the judicial states (especially NY and NJ) still have inventory to clear.

House prices rose 0.2% MOM and 6.4% YOY according to the FHFA House Price Index. Prices are still rising at an unsustainable pace in the West and Mountain regions, although the West Coast is decelerating. The Middle Atlantic (which includes NY and NJ) is bringing up the rear.

FHFA regional

The West and the South lead the country in job gains and increases in construction employment. The states where construction employment is increasing the fastest? AZ and MI. AZ fits in with the rest of its neighbors, while MI stands out compared to neighbors like OH and IN. There are a few states decreasing construction employment – OK, SC, and NJ.

construction employment map