Forbearance rate slowly descends to 5.35%

The U.S forbearance rate is falling, though not as quickly as it once was.

Data released on Monday by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed that the share of servicers’ portfolio volume in forbearance fell 3 basis points to 5.35% last week.

For the third month in a row, the MBA estimated 2.7 million homeowners are in some form of forbearance, and for almost four months now, forbearance portfolio volume has hovered between 5% and 6% — the longest a percentage range has held since the survey’s origins in May.

However, in the current environment, any sign of forbearance waning is a welcome one. Last week every investor class managed to see declines, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac once again claiming the lowest forbearance rate at 3.07%.

Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance, which include loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, also fell 5 basis points to 7.46%. And even though servicers continued to buy out delinquent loans from the Ginnie Mae pool (subsequently reclassifying them as portfolio loans) the forbearance share for portfolio and private-label securities also managed to fall to 9.14%.


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The MBA data shows that homeowners who remain in forbearance are more likely to be in distress, with fewer continuing to make any payments. According to Mike Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist, almost 14%of homeowners in forbearance were reported as current on their payments at the end of last month, but that share has declined nearly every month from 28% in May.

“While new forbearance requests increased slightly at the end of January, the rate of exits picked up somewhat, but remained much lower than in recent months. We are anticipating a sharp increase in exits in March and April as borrowers hit the 12-month expiration of their forbearance plans,” Fratantoni said.

Starting Nov. 2, the MBA began reporting the number of borrowers who continued to make their monthly payments during their forbearance period and have since exited. Since that date, the MBA has revealed that the number of up-to-date borrowers has consistently dropped.

To Fratantoni, servicers and policy makers need to be looking at the long-term unemployed, especially those who have been actively looking for work for 27 weeks or more as reported in January’s job data.

“These are the homeowners who are likely to still be in forbearance and
need additional support until the job market recovers to a greater extent,” Fratantoni said.

But economists are still showing signs of confidence in the market. HousingWire’s lead analyst, Logan Mohtashami, noted with an improving employment situation comes an economic improvement well past forbearance’s peak. Couple that with strong credit profiles from homeowners and nested equity and Mohtashami can outperform on rising home prices.

“This isn’t 2008 all over again. That recovery was slow, but today our demographics are better, and our household balance sheets are healthier. The fiscal and monetary assistance now is hugely improved from what we saw after 2008. We have everything we need to get America back to February 2020 jobs levels; we just need time,” Mohtashami said.

Source: housingwire.com

Fannie Mae reports rising confidence in housing market

Following two months of steady declines, Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI), a composite index designed to track the housing market and consumer confidence to sell or buy a home, rose in January.

The HSPI rose 3.7 points last month to 77.7. Though it’s undoubtedly a positive sign, the HPSI has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels and is still down 15.3 points year over year.

Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, noted a slight chasm has formed in confidence among lower and higher- income groups based on recent stimulus and fiscal policies.

According to Duncan, this newfound optimism in lower-income borrowers and renters could indicate those who have been more negatively impacted by the pandemic may be starting to feel the economic recovery.

“Among homeowners in higher income groups, however, the other five components of the index remained relatively flat or slightly negative, suggesting to us that some consumers are waiting to gauge the effectiveness of any new fiscal policies and vaccination distribution programs on both housing and the larger economy,” Duncan said.


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Overall, January’s housing market confidence jump was largely driven by renewed optimism for prospective home sellers, after December’s increasing home prices and tight inventory left homeowners weary that 2020’s record sales may not roll in to the new year. However, the percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home increased from 50% to 57% in January, while those who believe it is a good time to buy remained unchanged at 52%.

Even though buying sentiment stood idle in the first month of 2021, mortgage applications jumped 8.15% from the week ending Jan. 29, breaking a two-week streak of decreases, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

And borrowers are still relatively unsure of how long elevated home prices will hold. The HPSI reported 41% of respondents expect home prices will go up in the next 12 months – unchanged from the month prior – while those who believe it will go down increased from 16% to 17%.

But even if those prices do rise, borrowers can still save on the record low rates the industry has become accustomed to. The percentage of respondents who say mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months increased from 8% to 9%, while the percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up increased from 43% to 45%.

Though economists are fairly certain all signs indicate to rising mortgage rates, experts said it won’t be a sudden jerk reaction but rather a slow build that will force its way over 3% later in the year. Regardless, LO’s made insane money in 2020 thanks to record low rates, with the jury still out on whether they can swing it again in 2021 if refi’s begin to fall with rising rates.

But rising rates are a sign of a recovering economy, and though that recovery may look slow, the housing market is showing signs its already occurring.

The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months remained unchanged at 75%, while those who are concerned fell from 25% to 24%. And the percentage of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago increased from 20% to 21%, while the percentage who say theirs is significantly lower decreased from 18% to 14%.

January’s unemployment numbers weren’t overly impressive to economists, with the unemployment situation virtually unchanged for the month.

“The number of people on temporary layoff fell slightly in January, while the number of permanent job losers rose, a troubling sign. On the other hand, the number of people working part time but who would prefer full time employment also fell slightly, a positive indicator of labor demand,” Duncan said.

Source: housingwire.com