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Housing Market Recap (excerpted from Gate House’s weekly note to clients) May 3, 2023

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Activity at the Fed’s discount window and the Bank Term Lending Program rose in the past week, with banks borrowing $73 billion from the window and $82 billion from the program, up slightly and continuing to stay at high levels. With the seizure of First Republic Bank over the weekend and JPMorgan picking it up early Monday, pressure continues on banks that are similarly exposed to interest rate risk and risk of deposit flight. The Federal Home Loan Banks said advances rose 28% at the end of the first quarter from the close of 2022, reaching a record $1 trillion during the March banking crisis, slowing toward the end of the month.

Following the First Republic deal, shares of a few other banks — Comerica, PacWest Bancorp, Western Alliance Bank and Zions Bank — all sank in Tuesday trading.  Eyes and ears will be on whether these potential failures cause dissenting votes Wednesday within the FOMC.

First Republic was the 14th largest bank at the end of 2022 and is now the second largest bank failure in history after Washington Mutual in 2008, which JPMorgan also acquired. Of note here is that JPMorgan will share a loss with the FDIC on loans, with the FDIC reportedly taking 80%. Commercial real estate loans were reportedly a relatively small portion (6%) of First Republic’s loan base. The residential mortgage loans are believed to be low interest, low LTV loans to good credit borrowers. Nearly 60 percent of First Republic’s loans were single-family mortgages, according to their most recent annual report.

The Wall Street Journal reports that home builders are enjoying stronger-than-expected business this spring, capitalizing on the recent fall in mortgage rates and the shortage of existing homes for sale. Active listings in March stood at roughly half of where they were four years earlier, according to realtor.com, in part because higher mortgage rates made many homeowners reluctant to sell and give up their current low rates, the Journal said. WSJ said newly built homes made up “about one-third of single-family homes for sale in March, according to data from the Commerce Department and the National Association of Realtors. The proportion of newly built homes reached nearly 35% in December, a record in data going back to mid-1982 and up from a historical norm of 10% to 20%.”