Morning Report: Rent collections fall

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change
S&P futures 3707 5.6
Oil (WTI) 46.01 -0.34
10 year government bond yield   0.94%
30 year fixed rate mortgage   2.80%

Stocks are higher this morning on hopes for a stimulus bill. Bonds and MBS are down.

Mortgage Applications fell 1.2% last week as purchases decreased 5% and refis increased 2%. The numbers include an adjustment for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. “Refinance activity increased last week in response to mortgage rates for 30-year, 15-year and FHA loans hitting their lowest levels in MBA’s survey,” said Joel Kan, MBA Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “The increase in refinance applications was driven by FHA and VA refinances, while conventional activity fell slightly. The ongoing refinance wave has continued through the fall, with activity last week up 89 percent from a year ago.”

Mortgage credit increased in November, according to the MBA. “Mortgage credit availability increased slightly in November to its highest level since July, as the job market improved, and the housing sector continued to show strong borrower demand,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “There was an increase in credit availability for jumbo loans, as well as loan products with low credit scores, higher LTVs, and adjustable-rate features. Home purchase and refinance activity have remained strong in recent months, and the increased credit supply should help qualified borrowers still looking to capitalize on record-low mortgage rates. However, credit availability is still more than 30 percent below pre-pandemic levels and close to the restricted standards seen in 2014. This has especially impacted government borrowers and first-time buyers.”

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Note that mortgage credit is basically back to 2014 levels. It has still tightened dramatically post-COVID. Still we are nowhere near where we were during the mid 00s.

Toll Brothers recently reported earnings with contract signings up 63% on a YOY basis. Douglas Yearly, CEO said that the current market is the strongest he has seen in his 30 years at Toll Brothers.

“We attribute the strength in demand to a number of factors, including historically low interest rates, an undersupply of new and resale homes, and a renewed appreciation for the home as a sanctuary. The work-from-home phenomenon is also enabling more buyers to live where they want rather than where their jobs previously required. And since most of our customers have a
home to sell, the tight resale market gives them confidence they can sell their home quickly at an appreciated value that can then be re-invested in their new home.”

About 75% of renters made a full or partial rent payment in the first week of December, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. In the first week of November, that number was closer to 80%, so this drop is a concern. “While the initial rent collection figures for the first week of December are concerning, only a full month’s results will paint a complete picture. However, it should not come as a surprise that a rising number of households are struggling to make ends meet. As the nation enters a winter with increasing COVID-19 case levels and even greater economic distress – as indicated by last week’s disquieting employment report – it is only a matter of time before both renters and housing providers reach the end of their resources,” said Doug Bibby, NMHC President.

15 Responses

  1. The work-from-home phenomenon

    I live in a neighborhood that because of its location is mainly tecchies. So they were already working from home a couple of days a week. One neighbor just told me that post-COVID his employer is looking at limiting everyone to two days on site each week, and rotating days. Meetings will no longer require personal appearances either.

    If that is a widespread response, post-COVID, Austin traffic will become manageable without construction of new lanes, rail, etc. I wonder if this will be repeated everywhere or only where the majority of folks are in the “right kind” of employment.


    • Mark:

      I wonder if this will be repeated everywhere or only where the majority of folks are in the “right kind” of employment.

      It will definitely be more widespread than just the tech businesses, but it can only happen in certain kinds of businesses. My brother runs an insurance related business with lots of employees, and he has already cancelled the lease on their office space and is looking for a much smaller space, knowing that he doesn’t need everyone back in the office. He’s also expanded his searches for new employees beyond the 45-60 mile radius of the office that he used to have, knowing that he can actually employ people remotely from virtually anywhere in the country.

      In my business, most of my team is actually back in the office 3-5 days a week (WFH is definitely less than ideal, for my area), but we are the exception. More than 90% of the firm’s staff remains WFH, and I don’t see more than 50% ever being back in the office at the same time. We were actually in the process of building out a whole new expanded office space when covid hit. The move has been postponed now for at least a year, and will look entirely different from what was anticipated, because of the new WFH regime. (Lots of wasted money on that!)

      WFH is going to be massive for any industry that employs lots of people who spend all day at a desk on a computer or on the phone.


  2. I have been saying this since April…mask mandates, once in place, will never go away. No one believes me.


  3. I don’t know how any rational person can think this is acceptable. Youtube is undeniably a publisher, and should now be subject to being sued for every provably false thing said on it.


    • They are helping to make their competitors viable.

      This was an interesting read on the Reddit diaspora.


      • jnc:

        This was an interesting read on the Reddit diaspora.

        Yeah, it is inevitable that competitors will pop up. What we will need, eventually, is some kind of social media aggregator, a place where you can go to find Twitter, Parlor, etc all in one place. But I still think YouTube et al have quite obviously ceased to be open platforms, have confirmed themselves as publishers, and therefore should lose the legal protection from being sued for what is posted on them.

        On a different note, the absence of self-awareness in that article was mind-boggling. The author is practically a caricature of someone who inhabits an echo-chamber, even as she laments the problem of echo-chambers. This was particularly amusing:

        Eventually, her beliefs radicalized further: She became convinced that trans women are men…

        Yeah right…as if the idea that a man becomes a literal woman simply by declaring it is perfectly intuitive and obvious, and one needs to be “convinced” to think the otherwise “radical” idea that the words “men” and women” refer to a biological reality. This writer has no idea how deep inside of her own (in fact quite tiny) bubble she is.


        • The interviewee posted the actual questions and answers between her and the author. Bears little resemblance to the actual piece.

          Taibbi also wrote a piece on another person being censored for thought crimes.


  4. I really wonder what financial historians will write about the Great Sovereign Debt Bubble of the 2010s in 100 years


  5. Wholly predictable, but still the height of illogical, nanny-state authoritarianism.

    New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat who represents New York’s 67th Assembly District, quietly introduced a bill on Dec. 4 that would require “COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in accordance with the department of health’s COVID-19 vaccination administration program and mandates vaccination in certain situations.”

    Every New Yorker, except those medically exempt, are required to receive the vaccine if the state’s vaccination efforts do not achieve “sufficient immunity from COVID-19.”


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