Tight lending in 2012
The housing market continues to struggle as Realtors report one in three contracts now fail, up nearly 10 percent from the year prior and now the top challenge of the housing industry. Failures are due to declined mortgage applications or failed underwriting as appraised values are coming in below the negotiated price, according to the National Association of Realtors.
But why is lending so tight? Why are banks making things so difficult? It seems that now, more than ever, contract failures is the last thing the housing sector needs.
In a recent unsolicited and unplanned letter from the Federal Reserve chairman to Congress suggested that the housing market has the potential to be fixed and while Republican Senator Hatch publicly asserted that Bernanke was stepping out of bounds by influencing policy, the letter explained in detail why lending is so tight.
In the letter, the Fed notes, “Other data show, for instance, that less than half of lenders are currently offering mortgages to borrowers with a FICO score above 620 and a down payment of 10 percent – even though these loans are within GSE parameters. This hesitancy on the part of lenders is due in part to concerns about the high cost of servicing in the event of loan delinquency and fear that the GSEs could force the lender to repurchase the loan if the borrower defaults in the future.”
The Texas Real Estate Center (RECON) explains that the Fed asserts concerns about the high cost of mortgage servicing stem from:
- the realization of how expensive it is to resolve a nonperforming loan,
- uncertainty about what it will cost to comply with new mortgage servicing-related regulations and
- the potential change in the way Mortgage Servicing Rights (MSRs) are treated for capital requirements under Basel III (new international banking regulations).
RECON analyst, Gerald Klassen writes, “The good news is that we can understand the reasons. The bad news is that self-preservation may prevent the problem from being fixed.”
Klassen notes recent reports that it costs a servicer 75 basis points or more to service a defaulted loan compared with the 25 basis point servicing fee it receives, making it a losing business.
FHA loans are also difficult to obtain, with various factions, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development calling for a loosening of credit score minimums. According to the Asset Securitization Report, “Lenders are telling HUD officials the agency must first change FHA’s lender/monitoring system known as Neighborhood Watch so they aren’t stigmatized for making loans to borrowers with lower credit scores.” Lenders with higher default rates will have higher Neighborhood Watch ratios than other which RECON says could lead to audits and indemnification demands.
“Don’t forget to add the risk of government and private lawsuits and judicial foreclosure proceedings to the list of concerns about making loans that are more likely to default,” Klassen says. “If you were a lender facing all these challenges, would you make the loan? Demonization of mortgage lenders and servicers makes for great political theatrics. But it doesn’t make them want to lend more.”
Boomers retirement may be the true reason behind the labor shortage
(ECONOMY) Millennials and Gen Z were quick to be blamed for the labor shortage, citing lazy work ethic- the cause could actually be Boomers retirement.
In July, we reported on the Great Resignation. With record numbers of resignations, there’s a huge labor shortage in the United States. Although there were many speculations about the reasons why, from “lazy” millennials to the number of deaths from Covid. Just recently, CNN reported that in November another 3.6 million Americans left the labor force. It’s been suggested that the younger generations don’t want to work but retiring Boomers might be the bigger culprit.
Why Boomers are leaving the labor force
CNN Business reports that 90% of the Americans who left the workplace were over 55 years old. It’s now being suggested that many of the people who have left the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic were older Americans, not Millennials or Gen Z, as we originally thought. Here are the reasons why:
- Boomers are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than their younger counterparts, so they aren’t returning to work. Boomers are less willing to risk their health.
- The robust real estate market has benefitted Boomers, who have more equity in their homes. Boomers have more options on the table than just returning to work.
- Employers aren’t creating or posting jobs that lure people out of retirement or those near retirement age.
As Boomers retire, how does this impact the overall labor economy?
According to CNN Business, there are signs that the labor shortage is abating. Employers are starting to see record number of applicants to most posted jobs. FedEx, for example, just got 111,000 applications in one week, the highest it has ever recorded. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the pandemic-induced increase in retirement is only temporary. People who retired due to the risk of the pandemic will return to work as new strategies emerge to reduce the risk to their health. With new varients popping up, we will have to keep an eye on how the trend ultimately plays out.
Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?
NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination
When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”
At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?
The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.
In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…
Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement
The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.
Job openings hit a high point
To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.
The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.
Good news, bad news, depending on your profession
That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.
Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.
If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.
If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.
Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.
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