Only 32% of Lenders Profited on Mortgages in 2022

Armstrong Economics Blog/Real Estate Re-Posted Apr 13, 2023 by Martin Armstrong

The talking heads have been warning of a housing crash, but that is not what Socrates indicated. The 30-year fixed rate is around 6.89% at the time of this writing. Housing costs continue to rise, causing the costs of servicing mortgage debt to rise. Housing inventory is limited, and a recent report explains why we saw mass layoffs in the banking sector. The demand is still there and it is a sellers’ market. Cash is king when it comes to real estate for those who can afford it. Mortgage lenders are in trouble. In fact, only 32% of mortgage companies were profitable in 2022 compared to 98% in 2020.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) recently announced that independent mortgage banks and subsidiaries of chartered banks lost around $301 for every mortgage they financed in 2022. This marks a 113% decline from the prior year’s average and the first-time banks are seeing losses on mortgage products. This is not 2008 when banks handed out loans to anyone who asked.

“The rapid rise in mortgage rates over a relatively short period of time, combined with extremely low housing inventory and affordability challenges, meant that both purchase and refinance volume plummeted,” said Marina Walsh, CMB, MBA’s Vice President of Industry Analysis. “The stellar profits of the previous two years dissipated because of the confluence of declining volume, lower revenues, and higher costs per loan.” Production costs reached a high of $10,624 per loan last year. Productivity was 1.5 loans originations per production employee, down from 2.5 per employee the year prior, and an indicator of why we are seeing layoffs in the banking sector. No one is refinancing at these rates either and most chose a fixed rate, as we saw what happened in 2008 with adjustable costs.

First-time mortgages reached an all-time high of $323,780 last year, up from $298,324, the largest annual increase since the MBA began collecting data. The increased cost of loans increased the cost of serving mortgages. The MBA expects volume to decline further in 2023 before rallying in 2024 and 2025. The banking crisis may lead to banks and lenders selling off their mortgage debts once they cannot afford to service the debt. Again, the housing crisis today is not relative to the 2008 crash.

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