Category Archives: Housing Market

$14 Billion Commodity Broker Facing Crushing Margin Calls After Mortgage Hedges Go Wrong


(ZeroHedge) We warned last week that, despite The Fed’s unlimited largesse, there is trouble brewing in the mortgage markets that has an ugly similarity to what sparked the last crisis in 2007. For a sense of the decoupling, here is the spread between Agency MBS (FNMA) and 10Y TSY yields…

At that time, WSJ’s Greg Zuckerman reported that the AG Mortgage Investment Trust, a real-estate investment trust operated by New York hedge fund Angelo, Gordon & Co., is among those feeling pressure, the company said, and, in the latest sign of turmoil in crucial areas of the credit markets, is examining a possible asset sale.

“In recent weeks, due to the turmoil in the financial markets resulting from the global pandemic of the Covid-19 virus, the company and its subsidiaries have received an unusually high number of margin calls from financing counterparties,” AG Mortgage said Monday morning.

Well, they are not alone.

As Bloomberg reports, the $16 trillion U.S. mortgage market – epicenter of the last global financial crisis – is suddenly experiencing its worst turmoil in more than a decade, setting off alarms across the financial industry and prompting the Fed to intervene. But, as we previously noted, it is too late and too limited (the central bank is focusing on securities consisting of so-called agency home loans and commercial mortgages that were created with help from the federal government).

And the aftershocks of a chaotic rush to offload mortgage bonds are spilling over to regional broker-dealers facing mounting margin calls.

Flagstar Bancorp, one of the nation’s biggest lenders to mortgage providers, said Friday it stopped funding most new home loans without government backing. Other so-called warehouse lenders are tightening terms of financing to mortgage providers, either raising costs or refusing to support certain types of home loans.

One prominent mortgage funder, Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions, said Monday it’s even pausing all loan activity for two weeks. It blamed an “inability to appropriately evaluate credit risk.”

Things escalated over the weekend, according to Bloomberg,  when some firms rushed to raise cash by requesting offers for their bonds backed by home loans.

“I ran dealer desks for over 20 years,” said Eric Rosen, who oversaw credit trading at JPMorgan Chase & Co., ticking off the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management, the bursting of the dot-com bubble some 20 years ago, and the 2008 global financial crisis. “And I never recall a BWIC on a weekend.”

And now, commodity-broker ED&F Man Capital Markets has been hit with growing demands to post more capital to cover souring hedges in its mortgage division, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The requests are coming from central clearinghouses and exchanges, forcing the firm to put up almost $100 million on Friday alone, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

ED&F, whose hedges exceed $5 billion in net notional value, has been in discussions with the clearinghouses and has met all the margin calls, one of the people said.

As a reminder, ED&F Man Capital is the financial-services division of ED&F Man Group, the 240-year-old agricultural commodities-trading house.

It has about $14 billion in assets and more than $940 million in shareholder equity, according to the firm’s website.

Concern about losses in mortgage bonds could feed turmoil in the overall mortgage market that ultimately drives up borrowing costs for consumers looking to buy homes and refinance. Mortgage rates have risen in recent weeks, despite a fall in benchmark rates.

“The Fed is going to do whatever it takes to restore normal functioning in the market,” said Karen Dynan, a Harvard University economics professor who formerly worked as a Fed economist and senior official at the Treasury Department.

“But we need to remember that the root of the problem is that financial institutions and investors are desperately seeking cash, so in that sense the Fed’s announcement is not everything that needs to be done.”

All of which sounds ominously similar to July 2007, when two Bear Stearns hedge funds (Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Fund and the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Enhanced Leveraged Fund) – exposed to mortgage-backed securities and various other leveraged derivatives on same – crashed and burned and started the dominoes falling…

Source: ZeroHedge

Recession 2020: 5 Reasons It Will Be Worse Than 2009

In this recession 2020 video YOU are going to discover 5 reasons (NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT) the next recession will be far worse than the 2008/2009 recession. The Fed has created so much mal investment, by keeping interest rates artificially low, we now have the EVERYTHING BUBBLE. Stocks are in a bubble, bonds are in a bubble, housing is in a bubble and the 2020 recession (which the data suggests is highly probable) will be the pin that pricks them all.

We’ve had recessions in the US every 6-8 years throughout our history, and we’re currently 10 years into an expansion which makes the US due for a recession in 2020. While not all recessions are devastating, because the debt bubbles are so much bigger now than in 2009, the next recession has the potential to be the worst by far.

Core Mortgage Repayment Risk Factors Exceed Former Financial Crisis Highs

The GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have seeming forgotten the financial crisis.

Fannie Mae, for example, now has the highest average combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio in history. Even higher than during the financial crisis.

How about borrower debt-to-income (DTI) ratios? Fannie Mae’s average DTI is the highest its been since Q4 2008.

At least the average FICO scores remains above kickoff of the last financial crisis.

David Lereah, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (2006)

Source: Confounded Interest

US Home Prices Accelerate At Fastest Pace In 9 Months

Case-Shiller home price gains have re-accelerated over the last 3 months and analysts expected another acceleration in November (the latest data set) and were right as the 20-City Composite surge 2.55% YoY (better than the +2.40% YoY expectation).

This is the biggest YoY rise since Feb 2019…

Source: Bloomberg

Home prices climbed 0.5% from the previous month – also topping forecasts – matching the October increase for the best back-to-back gains since early 2018.

All 20 cities in the index showed year-over-year home-price gains, led by Phoenix; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Tampa, Florida.

After dropping YoY in September and October, the mecca of all things socially just and tech-savvy – San Francisco – saw prices adjust higher and back into the green YoY…

Source: Bloomberg

Finally, a broader national index of home prices was up 3.5% from a year earlier, the most since April.

Source: ZeroHedge

Why Manhattan’s Skyscrapers Are Empty

Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years remain unsold.

In Manhattan, the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant.

Such is the tale of two cities within America’s largest metro. Even as 80,000 people sleep in New York City’s shelters or on its streets, Manhattan residents have watched skinny condominium skyscrapers rise across the island. These colossal stalagmites initially transformed not only the city’s skyline but also the real-estate market for new homes. From 2011 to 2019, the average price of a newly listed condo in New York soared from $1.15 million to $3.77 million.

But the bust is upon us. Today, nearly half of the Manhattan luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold, according to The New York Times.

What happened? While real estate might seem like the world’s most local industry, these luxury condos weren’t exclusively built for locals. They were also made for foreigners with tens of millions of dollars to spare. Developers bet huge on foreign plutocrats—Russian oligarchs, Chinese moguls, Saudi royalty—looking to buy second (or seventh) homes.

But the Chinese economy slowed, while declining oil prices dampened the demand for pieds-à-terre among Russian and Middle Eastern zillionaires. It didn’t help that the Treasury Department cracked down on attempts to launder money through fancy real estate. Despite pressure from nervous lenders, developers have been reluctant to slash prices too suddenly or dramatically, lest the market suddenly clear and they leave millions on the table.

The confluence of cosmopolitan capital and terrible timing has done the impossible: It’s created a vacancy problem in a city where thousands of people are desperate to find places to live.

From any rational perspective, what New York needs isn’t glistening three-bedroom units, but more simple one- and two-bedroom apartments for New York’s many singlesroommates, and small families. Mayor Bill De Blasio made affordable housing a centerpiece of his administration. But progress here has been stalled by onerous zoning regulations, limited federal subsidies, construction delays, and blocked pro-tenant bills.

In the past decade, New York City real-estate prices have gone from merely obscene to downright macabre. From 2010 to 2019, the average sale price of homes doubled in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Prospect Heights and Williamsburg, according to the Times. Buyers there could consider themselves lucky: In Cobble Hill, the typical sales price tripled to $2.5 million in nine years.

This is not normal. And for middle-class families, particularly for the immigrants who give New York City so much of its dynamism, it has made living in Manhattan or gentrified Brooklyn practically impossible. No wonder, then, that the New York City area is losing about 300 residents every day. It adds up to what Michael Greenberg, writing for The New York Review of Books, called a new shameful form of housing discrimination—“bluelining.”

We speak nowadays with contrition of redlining, the mid-twentieth-century practice by banks of starving black neighborhoods of mortgages, home improvement loans, and investment of almost any sort. We may soon look with equal shame on what might come to be known as bluelining: the transfiguration of those same neighborhoods with a deluge of investment aimed at a wealthier class.

New York’s example is extreme—the squeezed middle class, shrink-wrapped into tiny bedrooms, beneath a canopy of empty sky palaces. But Manhattan reflects America’s national housing market, in at least three ways.

First, the typical new American single-family home has become surprisingly luxurious, if not quite so swank as Manhattan’s glassy spires. Newly built houses in the U.S. are among the largest in the world, and their size-per-resident has nearly doubled in the past 50 years. And the bathrooms have multiplied. In the early ’70s, 40 percent of new single-family houses had 1.5 bathrooms or fewer; today, just 4 percent do. The mansions of the ’70s would be the typical new homes of the 2020s.

Second, as the new houses have become more luxurious, homeownership itself has become a luxury. Young adults today are one-third less likely to own a home at this point in their lives than previous generations. Among young black Americans, homeownership has fallen to its lowest rate in more than 60 years.

Third, and most important, the most expensive housing markets, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, haven’t built nearly enough homes for the middle class. As urban living has become too expensive for workers, many of them have either stayed away from the richest, densest cities or moved to the south and west, where land is cheaper. This is a huge loss, not only for individual workers, but also for these metros, because denser cities offer better matches between companies and workers, and thus are richer and more productive overall. Instead of growing as they grow richer, New York City, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area are all shrinking.

Across the country, the supply of housing hasn’t kept up with population growth. Single-family-home sales are stuck at 1996 levels, even though the United States has added 60 million people—or two Texases—since the mid-’90s. The undersupply of housing has become one of the most important stories in economics in the past decade. It explains why Americans are less likely to movewhy social mobility has declinedwhy regional inequality has increasedwhy entrepreneurship continues to fallwhy wealth inequality has skyrocketed, and why certain neighborhoods have higher poverty and worse health.

In 2010, one might have thought that the defining housing story of the century would be the real-estate bubble that plunged the U.S. economy into a recession. But the past decade has been defined by the juxtaposition of rampant luxury-home building with the cratering of middle-class-home construction. The future might restore a measure of sanity, both to New York’s housing crisis and America’s. But for now, the nation is bluelining itself to death.

Source: by Derek Thompson | The Atlantic

Zombie NYC Developers Resort To Inventory Loans To Stay Afloat During Housing Slump

New York City’s housing market has been swamped with a historic mismatch involving a flood of luxury inventory and a shortage of buyers. 

Manhattan is facing one of the worst slumps since 2011, forcing developers to take out low-interest inventory loans, collateralized by unsold condos to stay afloat. 

These loans are lifelines for struggling developers and a boom for companies such as Silverstein Properties Inc., who is expected to double its inventory loan book to more than $1 billion in 2020, reported Bloomberg.

Silverstein’s inventory loan book is growing at an exponential rate as a housing bust across Manhattan gains momentum. 

Michael May, CEO of Silverstein, said inventory loan growth among developers is the fastest in Gramercy, Tribeca, and Midtown East. These areas have also been hit hard in the housing slump. 

“You’re seeing some projects that are completed that have just had very, very slow sales,” May said. “Given the amount of condo developers seeking debt, if we open the floodgates, we could probably load $1 billion of that product on within the next 60 days.”

Developers have been pulling inventory loans to avoid slashing listing prices that would spark a firesale and lead to further downside in the housing market.

“Our goal is not to lend to projects that fail: We’re in a position where if a project has a problem, we believe that we could execute the business plan, and we could finish the construction,” May said. “We think that there’s still demand for units that are priced well, but in many cases, the owners of these projects have not adjusted their expectations to where the price would sell in the market yet.”

Silverstein has completed $500 million in financing year-to-date. Inventory loans are expected to be a large portion of the firm’s book in 2020, as there’s no sign the Manhattan real estate market will see an upswing then, and developers will need cheap financing to weather the storm.

As a result, the rise of zombie developers across Manhattan is inevitable. Thank You Federal Reserve! 

Source: ZeroHedge

CAR on California October Housing: Sales Up 1.9% YoY, Inventory Down 18%

The CAR reported: California housing market holds steady in October, C.A.R. reports

(Bill McBride) Shrinking inventory subdued California home sales and held home sales and prices steady in October, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today. 

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 404,240 units in October, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2019 if sales maintained the October pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

October’s sales figure was up 0.1 percent from the 404,030 level in September and up 1.9 percent from home sales in October 2018 of a revised 396,720. 

“The California housing market continued to see gradual improvement in recent months as the current mortgage environment remains favorable to those who want to buy a home. With interest rates remaining historically low for the foreseeable future, motivated buyers finding that homes are slightly more affordable may seize the opportunity and resume their home search,” said 2020 C.A.R. President Jeanne Radsick, a second-generation REALTOR® from Bakersfield, Calif. “Additionally, the condominium loan policies that went into effect mid-October could help buyers for whom single-family homes are out of reach.” 

After 15 straight months of year-over-year increases, active listings fell for the fourth straight month, dropping 18.0 percent from year ago. The decline was the largest since May 2013.

The Unsold Inventory Index (UII), which is a ratio of inventory over sales, was 3.0 months in October, down from 3.6 in both September 2019 and October 2018. It was the lowest level since June 2018. The index measures the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.

Source: by Bill McBride | Calculated Risk