Mortgage Applications Likely Soared Last Week – But Not Really

Posted on December 2nd, 2008 in Daily Mortgage/Housing News - The Real Story, Mr Mortgage's Personal Opinions/Research

** Mortgage Professionals – I want to hear from you in the comments section. Tell is about your production levels in the past week and whether it was a) new b) moved from a different lender for a better rate c) a Hail-Mary loan locked because the computer said this person can benefit from this rate etc. Thanks!

When we get weekly Mortgage Bankers Loan Applications survey tomorrow morning it is going to show an explosion that will make everyone think the entire nation is refinancing all at once.  That is what the Wall Street analysts and media have been pushing for the last week as well. This is an incorrect assumption.

Read more on what the drop in mortgage rates means: Mr Mortgage: In-Depth Look at Mortgage Rates – 5.5% Does Not Exist For Most

Below is a note I wrote to clients about IndyMac when they put out a press release saying they locked $1 billion in new loans last January. This is a very misleading press release, which I am sure was the intent. If you look at the chart, it had the effect of sending the stock price up 100% for a brief period of time. All of those who bought under the false impression that IndyMac was doing great based upon loan application counts were ultimately burned. The same rules apply today when rates surge lower in this short of a period of time.

Remember folks, with respect to mortgage and housing ‘NOTHING is at it appears’. Not even something as easy as counting up mortgage applications.

The number that comes out tomorrow will be mostly wrong. Not ‘somewhat’ or ‘slightly’ but ‘mostly’ wrong.  While lenders did get a surge of business that is new to them most is not new business. When rates come slamming down in a very short period of time like we saw last Tuesday very little new business is originated that day. My best guess is that of all the loan applications being counted last week that 85% of them were a result of a loan that was pulled from another lender for a better rate elsewhere.

This is because most lenders will not ‘roll down’ borrowers interest rate locks to ‘today’s rate’ when rates drop.  Because of this when rates drop through the floor in a short period of time, entire portfolios of loans that have been in process for up to a month shift from one bank to another as loan officers and borrowers do what is necessary to take advantage of ‘today’s rate’. The surge in mortgage apps last week mostly represents the past month of loans all re-locked and submitted to other lenders within a few short days.

The surge also represents a large percentage of loans locked without borrower permission because the loan officers contact management system said that Martha Smith for whom they did a loan 3-years ago can benefit from refinancing at 5.75%. Then they call Martha and she in no longer employed, the house has fallen too much or she has moved already. Loan officers go lock crazy spending their entire day locking in as many as possible hoping they will work.

What the survey tomorrow won’t tell you is how many loans were lost by each lender during the week.  Losing these loans is painful because they were locked and submitted at much higher (favorable) rates. When in-process loans that are locked get pulled mid-stream more money can be lost than is made from replacing that loan with a new, lower-rate loan pulled from another lender. That is because the original lender loses all of those man-hours and processing costs as well as the actual loan that carried a rate higher than market making it more valuable. Additionally, hedging for days when rates plunge is nearly impossible because lenders have no clue how much of their existing pipeline will be lost and how many of the new locks and submission will actually fund.

Now you know the real story about what happens to mortgage divisions when rates plunge. For more on what low rates in general mean now days, please see my recent report called  Mr Mortgage: In-Depth Look at Mortgage Rates – 5.5% Does Not Exist For Most -Best Mr Mortgage

1/24/08 IndyMac locks $1 billion in loans in a single day – The Half-Truths Never Stop!

Michael Perry is the biggest information fabricators in the industry. Look back through all of your 2007 press releases and you will see how many times he has said such things only to disappoint the shareholders.

The facts are IndyMac sits on Billions of unsalable subprime, Pay Option and second mortgage loans. These three loan types make up 80% of their portfolio and most of it cannot be sold for any price.

‘IndyMac See Record Lock Volume for a Single Day’

Record lock volume is only half the story. All mortgage companies had record locks yesterday but this is not ‘new’ business necessarily.

When you lock a loan that is your rate. By and large, lenders do not roll down rates to current market daily if the market improves. When rates plunge like they did yesterday, everyone rushes out and forward locks loans with whoever has the lowest rates.  Much of this volume was already locked and in-process at a different lender but relocked somewhere else to get the better rate.

Many times in the craziness one loan is locked with multiple lenders on days with large rate drops because pricing is so different between them and people will no almost anything for the best rate.  So for every hundred ‘new’ loans IndyMac got yesterday, they may end up losing 85.  But of the 85 lost if rates had not have plunged they may have funded 60%. Of the ‘new’ 100, they may fund 45%. Net-net, they lost business in the near-term.

Yes Indy may have locked $1 Billion (3000 loans) yesterday. But this is not a daily event and they likely lost 2500 loans previously locked and in-process as portfolios shifted for the best rate. Of the 3000 ‘new’ loans, the majority were already locked and in process at another lender like Countrywide. Another fact is that following mega lock days, volume typically falls off sharply and a week later lock volume could be off 90% as rates level out or rise.

In addition, many loans that were locked will never fund because loan officers lock borrowers that their computer systems say can benefit and ask questions later.  They spend all day locking in anyone and everyone they have ever done business with in the past or present. Then after calling the borrower to tell them what a great job they did, they realize that the borrower does not qualify because the value is down too much, the borrower does not qualify under the tighter guidelines etc.

Now for the bad news…all of those loans that IndyMac already had in their pipeline previously locked at higher rates that were pulled, could cause severe losses. Not only paper and hedging losses but real operational losses from the staff work loans for weeks that will never fund.

Lastly, the lost loans are the exact ones that they wanted to fund because they carry a  higher rate than market rate in most cases. The new 3000 loans locked yesterday at the one-day lowest rates in 5-years are locked so low that funding these could create massive losses since rates shot up so much in the past 24-hours. Rates are up almost 50bps since yesterday morning. To add insult to injury, chances are IndyMac was likely not able to hedge these appropriately and/or do not have the forward commitments necessary to handle that much production. In essence, their entire pipeline of loans locked at favorable rates to IndyMac that they worked so hard on over the past month churned elsewhere for lower rates at a COST to Indymac.

A day like yesterday while it makes for great headlines, can ruin a lender. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it is absolutely fact.

Below is a story just released today by Mortgage Daily.  This is what happens when rates drop suddenly and portfolios shift this quickly.  A lender has no idea what loans in their pipeline will fund and they sit highly exposed from the avalanche of new rate locks at lower rates than all of their current locked and in-process business. Weeks like last week can put a lender out of commission complete with multi-week underwriting, docs and funding turn-times very quickly.

Growing Wholesaler Halts Business – Mortgage Network suspends third-party channel

December 2, 2008 By staff

A Massachusetts-based lender has been inundated with so much refinance business that its originations have exceeded its warehouse capacity. As a result, the company has suspended its third-party lending. Mortgage Network Inc. today issued a bulletin to its mortgage brokers and loan correspondents indicating it will immediately halt third-party originations. Loans already in the pipeline must be locked by tomorrow and closed by Dec. 31, according to the memorandum.

The Danvers-based firm, which also operates as MNET Mortgage Corp., blamed “unprecedented market conditions” for the decision to quit handling broker and correspondent business. In June, Mortgage Network announced it would expand its wholesale operation into five new states. It already operated in more than 40 states. The company had claimed to be “the largest independent mortgage company in the Northeast.”

In an interview today, Koss said the recent decrease in mortgage rates resulted in a surge of refinance applications. The increase in activity pushed business beyond its warehouse capacity. “Warehouse lines and lending have become greatly restricted,” Koss said. “So many warehouse lenders have left the business, and they’re gone. So, many people just don’t have the same capacity that we had in 2003.

He said the company will attempt to expand its warehouse lending capacity. But if additional lines are not secured or business doesn’t slow down by January, the suspension of broker and correspondent business will become permanent.

More Mr Mortgage Research

8 Responses to “Mortgage Applications Likely Soared Last Week – But Not Really”

  1. I don’t give a hoot about apps. I WANT TO SEE how many actually make it to FUNDING…..I am willing to bet only 15-25% actually qualify. Just an observation from the poop deck. Sail on….DOWN.

  2. Money man is 100% correct. How many overzealous LO’s went into bank websites on a lock-athon, locking everyone they wrote over the last 2 years at 6.75%, only to find out that those clients are at 120% LTV now, or are out of work, would need to bring $80 grand to close, or are so annoyed with the whole process that they are not even interested. A paltry few of these deals will close with UW guidelines as they are now. If the Treasury and Fannie/Freddie want to calm the markets and fix the problem, they better start buying stated loans from people who AREN’T 3 months late, and they better start buying it up to about $1.5 million in places like LA and SF.

  3. “and they better start buying it up to about $1.5 million in places like LA and SF”

    God I hope not. The last thing we need is anything that props up overpriced coastal real estate. Let it fall.

  4. Perhaps Mr. Mortgage is making another market call (sell the rally).

  5. Just like i thought, some of these i had submitted and i locked last week, well gee are NOT getting approved.
    The bank better drop the rates so people’s ratios will be in line, and THEY NEED TO APPROVE THEM.
    I have been in the business for 13 years, i know what i am doing, the problem isn’t submitting a good buyer, it is the property values that will screw all this up for everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Just like Mr Mortgage said, I pulled my pipeline and transferred to another company. It was either that or the borrowers were going to another Broker.

  7. I have a question I’m sure you’ve dealth with before. I’m about to buy a house and I have a lock on the interest rate (5.5%). As rates go lower, is there anyway to get out of that “locked” rate for a lower rate? I know what the word lock is and I also know it’s a gamble when you lock in the rate. I was just wondering if it could be “unlocked?”

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  8. As far as unlocking your rate I am sure you can depending on where you are in the process -but it will probably cost you-best thing to do is ask your lender

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