Is it really easier to get a mortgage these days? Well...  After mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac clarified their credit qualification standards last fall to encourage lenders to ease their requirements, it seems like credit access would improve. And then the Federal Housing Administration lowered its insurance premiums, and Fannie and Freddie introduced new low-down-payment programs for qualified buyers.

Consumer attitudes towards housing cooled somewhat in July, according to Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey. This seems to be driven by deterioration in people's financial situations and their attitudes towards the economy in general. Fannie Mae notes that the survey questions were being asked when we had both the Greek situation and the Chinese stock market meltdown going on, so perhaps that is coloring the data. Given the strong support of Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right, it looks like people are hopping mad about their financial condition and this isn't a spurious reading based on Greece and China. 

Zelman & Associates published their Land Development Survey indicating that acquisition demand is picking up alongside order strength. Finished lost supply is expected to increase as development activity inched higher to 63.3 in the second quarter from 61.7 in the first quarter. Acquisition demand index posts first sequential increase since Q1 2014 at 68.5. Finished lot prices rose 2 percent sequentially in the second quarter and finished lot prices were up 11 percent YoY. For more information regarding the Land Development Survey contact Ivy at

As rental affordability declines and mortgage rates remain low, more first-time homebuyers are being drawn towards homeownership but many prospective buyers are up against the low inventory problem. On a national level, inventory is down 6.5 percent from last year and is down 36 percent from its peak level of 2.4 million homes in July 2011. The markets that experienced the greatest gains in home values in the second quarter were San Francisco, San Jose, Dallas and Denver but these metros have also seen the greatest decline in for-sale inventory from peak levels. Four markets in the second quarter had double digit appreciation on an annual basis out of the top 35 metro areas.

Denver home values were up 15.4 percent from last year, the highest out of all the markets analyzed. Dallas, San Jose and San Francisco also experienced home price appreciation in the double digits at 12.5%, 12.4% and 11% respectively. Portland also saw a 3 percent home value appreciation just in the second quarter. On a national level, the average rent is $1,369 per month and in the second quarter rent growth outpaced home value growth in just under half of the nation's 35 largest metros. Home values nationwide are currently up 3.3 percent but they are expected to decline to 2.4 percent through 2016.

The National Association of Realtors has bluntly divulged the problems that plague their business. There are a large number of part time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents. This stems from the fact that there are low entry requirements to qualify for a license to sell homes. Realtors only need to complete an average of 70 hours (with 13 hours bringing up the rear) of training to qualify for a license. To put this into perspective, cosmetologists need an average of 372.  There is a demand for lower brokerage and realtor fees from millennials buying their first homes, trying to minimize costs. This is bringing about firms with discounted fees they draw out from being mainly technologically driven. With realty brokerage firms struggling to comply with aggressively enforced federal regulations policies, the discounted firms could become commonplace in the next 5 to 10 years. If you would like to read the complete 160 page "DANGER" report click here.

While housing starts and permits are rising smartly, it's entirely due to multifamily (2 or more units). Last month, multifamily starts enjoyed their best month since 4/88 and their best first half of the year since 1989! Moreover, in June multifamily starts were 41.6% of all starts, the highest percentage since 12/85. As for multifamily permits, they just had their best month since 1/90, and their best YTD since 1987.

It seems everywhere you look, when you see empty natural land, developers see a new place to build houses and then you blink and hundreds of houses have popped up in that area. Well according to a recent report by the Urban Institute, a majority of these new homes will be rented, not bought. From 2010 to 2020, 11.6 million in net new households are projected to form, with 62 percent (7.2 million) being renters. For the 10.4 million net new households expected to form between 2020 and 2030, 56 percent (5.8 million) will be renters. Not only will new houses be renters, but also the overall number of renters is expecting to surge. Starting at 40.7 million renters in 2010, that number will jump to 48 million in 2020 and 53.7 million in 2030.

According to Wells Fargo Economics Group new home sales and new home construction are building momentum. May data on new and existing home sales exceeded expectations and new home sales are at the fastest pace since the recession. Despite the demand among potential home buyers, inventory remains low. Homes are selling quickly with many sellers receiving multiple offers above the asking price and the gap is narrowing between the proportion of households stating that now is a good time to buy versus now is a good time to sell. First-time homebuyers are the primary contributors to a rising proportion of existing home sales and homebuilders reported that first-time homebuyers are also accounting for a growing share of their sales. Despite the growing homeownership demand, tenant retention rates have increased, reaching a ten year high in February.  Multifamily starts are expected to rise 18 percent in 2015 to 420,000 units with apartment projects as the bulk of that volume. Demand should be enough to keep both homebuilders and apartment developers happy the next few years. To read the full article, click here.

MBA's Chart of the Week for July 24th highlights FHFA US Purchase-Only House Price Index as it increased to a similar level seen in April 2006 this past May. This means that the national index of house prices is only 1.8 percent below the peak level of May 2007. According to this index, the regional prices indexes range from 11 percent higher in the West South Central region to 12.7 percent lower in the Pacific region. In many parts of the country, home prices have not yet recovered to their 2007 levels as wages and salaries are now 16 percent higher.

Even going back farther, according to the Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report, "purchase loans as a percentage of lenders' overall mortgage volume rose for the third straight month in May with a 6% jump to 58%." What did Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae have to say about the report? "While the share of purchase loan volume is lower than it was one year ago, lower mortgage rates has given some help to refinancing volumes and share." 2015 has been a much better year for the overall closing rate for purchase loans: they climbed to 68.2%, which is the highest since January, and 5% higher than the 2014 average.

In security news, Ginnie Mae recent news includes Next Modernization outreach call, implementation of RSA SecurID Tokens for GinnieNET users, updated guidance for completing the RSA SecurID Token request form, and updated FAQ's for RSA SecurID Token implementation. View Ginnie Mae's July 29th Notes and News 

The Fed's New Repo Tool Could Affect Millions of U.S. Home Loans.  The dynamics here bear watching since they could have implications for the wider financial system and even millions of American mortgages.

As a reminder, Mortgage Delivery Specialists assisted the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago for the first securitization with Ginnie Mae through providing data, validating data, data auditing and delivery services. The securities are backed by mortgages originated by the community lenders through the Federal Home Loan Banks' MPF Program. Mortgage Delivery Specialists help lenders sell and securitize residential loans with the GSE's and Ginnie Mae.

While we're on the markets, Monday fixed-income securities (which include most securities backed by mortgages) sold off/worsened. Given the lack of news in the U.S. you can pick your reason why: strong risk appetite in equities causing a rally there, higher oil prices, corporate M&A news, auction supply, and rate-lock hedging ahead of corporate debt issuance. The Fed fund futures market's implied probability of a rate hike at the September 16-17 meeting edged lower today to 52%.

And there isn't much in the way of news today aside from the second-tier preliminary Q2 Productivity and Unit Labor Costs figure, although we do have a $24 billion 3-year note auction (results at 13:00 ET)

After closing at 2.24% (remember that this is with a Fed move in short-term rates priced in!) we find ourselves at 2.18% with agency MBS better by nearly .250.

Jobs and Announcements

In job news, OneTrust Home Loans, headquartered in San Diego, CA, is expanding its presence in several key markets.  OneTrust opened five offices in Tennessee in 2015 and is expanding throughout the state, including Nashville and surrounding areas. The company remains focused on growth of its footprint: a new office recently opened in Houston and additional offices are opening in the Las Vegas/Henderson and Vail/Breckenridge markets. Having a slogan of, "Service is everything!" means something about meeting expectations. "Leadership is not layered, giving Branch Managers the ability to resolve issues with dedicated corporate support and a flat leadership model. OneTrust demonstrates unparalleled and transparent processing; unlike any mortgage company in the industry. We invite you to see what makes OneTrust Home Loans different by having a confidential conversation and tour our technology with our business development team." Contact Chris Probert (435.252.3982) or Chris Van Arsdale (865.293.0799). For additional information, check out OneTrust Tools Video and LoanTown USA.

Greg Frost is looking for a few more Branch Partners. "Yes, it's the same Greg Frost who was the mortgage industry's first billion dollar Loan Originator. Greg's Division, of Primary Residential Mortgage, currently has Branch Partners in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa and Mississippi. If you're operating in one of these states, and would like to investigate his very profitable Branch Partner business model, just click here to schedule a confidential conversation with Greg. Imagine working with and being mentored by one of the industry's' most prolific mortgage professionals. Click Here now."

Elsewhere, in spite of the legendary pay scales at the CFPB, the turnover is even more noteworthy. Steven L. Antonakas, who left a while back as the #2 person at that bureau for "family reasons", has already surfaced and has landed at Eastern Bank.

In association news, Lenders One is supporting membership in the Community Mortgage Lenders of America (CMLA) with a $4,000 contribution. Lenders One created CMLA in 2009 in recognition of the need to have a dedicated voice in Washington representing the interests of its small community based lenders. William B. Shepro, CEO of Lenders One parent, Altisource Portfolio Solutions, announced the support in his opening statement at the Lenders One August 2015 conference in Washington, D.C. Lenders One will reimburse its members $4,000 in the form of a credit toward the cooperative's annual dues for each year of CMLA membership. Moreover, Lenders One companies that are current members of CMLA will receive the same benefit. In addition, CMLA announced that its Board had approved a one-time $2,000 discount on CMLA's dues for all Lenders One members that join CMLA in 2015. Combined, both discounts effectively zero out CMLA's annual dues for year-one for new CMLA members.

HUD's Mortgagee Review Board settled with both American Home Free Mortgage, based in Prosper, and R.H. Lending, based in Colleyville, due to allegations that they violated mortgage regulations