Market Conditions

Army Cutbacks Add Pressure to Military Housing Bonds, Communities

Local communities that enjoyed stability from nearby military installations after the 2008 recession are facing the reality that those bases are not immune from Congressional austerity measures designed to shrink federal government.

With the U.S. Army’s announcement of plans to reduce the ranks by 40,000 soldiers, or about 8% of the active force, local leaders last week began to assess the impact on individual posts. About 17,000 civilian jobs will also be eliminated over the next three years.

For the bond industry, the most immediate concern is likely to focus on taxable bonds used to finance privatized military housing since 1997. Today there are 205,000 privatized military housing units, mostly apartments and townhouses but also single-family homes.

Ratings analysts said they are studying the issue, with reports on the credit impact possible later in the week. Generally, however, ratings have held up through the […]

Premium Reduction Continues to Bolster FHA Loan Production

The Federal Housing Administration endorsed 102,800 loans in May, the second month in a row that endorsements passed 100,000.

The elevated FHA activity suggests continued interest in the government-backed market since the federal mortgage insurer reduced its annual mortgage insurance premium by 50 basis points in late January.

By contrast, the FHA endorsed just 66,300 single-family loans in January and 67,700 loans in December.

The latest FHA Production Report released earlier this month also shows that the agency received a total of 686,800 loan applications in February through May compared to 346,600 in the same period last year. (It generally takes 60 days from application to process and endorse an FHA loan.)

However, application activity dropped off toward the end of that four-month period, indicating the rush to refinance loans has waned. Applications in May decreased 10.5% from the previous […]

Housing in U.S. Seen Boosted by Millennials Finally Buying


A greater share of millennials say they’re likely to buy a home this year, adding to evidence that first-time buyers are finally entering the real estate market and fueling a jump in sales.

A survey of site visitors taken in mid-June showed that about 65% of respondents between ages 25 and 34 said they intend to buy a home within the next three months, up from 54% in January, according to data released Wednesday at the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Miami. The share of millennials visiting with the goal of buying a home increased to 23% from 21% at the start of the year.

Young buyers, traditionally top drivers of housing demand, are helping to bolster the housing recovery after years of being hampered by student debt and tight credit. An improving economy, surging rents and the prospect of […]

What Banks Have to Fear from Crises in Greece and China


Unless you are a Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase, your bank is pretty safe from the turmoil in Greece and China, right?

Think again.

The threat of a Greek default and the Chinese stock market plunge will exert downward pressure on interest rates, and global insecurity could encourage the Federal Reserve to delay a rate hike, experts say. That could translate into even tighter margins and delay relief for the many banks starved for revenue growth.

Yes, investors likely will react by demanding safe assets that U.S. banks hold and trade, which could be a small silver lining. But there are doubts that flight to quality would spur a boomlet in mortgage refinancings as optimists might hope.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that it adds uncertainty at a point in the year — and the long recovery from the financial crisis — when banks thought things would be getting better.

Instability from […]

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