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The week ahead: Higher rates to buoy importance of servicing

Compass Point tells the market what to expect

crystal ball

The first full week of January promises to bring change to the mortgage industry and lots of it — from declining originations to rising mortgage servicing rights values as the market shifts more in favor of servicing businesses.

The housing industry is already seeing interest rates reshape the business cycle a bit.

Right now, interest rates continue to edge up, leading to a situation where origination revenue is expected to fall while mortgage servicing rights will gain in fair value market-ups as they benefit from slower amortization, Compass Point Research & Trading analysts said Friday.

The factors leading Compass Point to this conclusion include the Compass Point Gain on Sale Index for mortgages, which shows the index ending the fourth quarter at 2.23%, up from 2.20%. Meanwhile, the MBA mortgage application index is averaging 403, down from 465 in the third quarter — a 13% drop in mortgage application activity.

Bankrate also saw its 30-year, fixed-mortgage rate index rise to 4.54% from 4.28% in the third quarter.

The regulatory landscape also will shift with both Rep. Mel Watt and Janet Yellen expected to be sworn into their new positions as FHFA director and Fed Chair.

When fourth-quarter results come in, Compass Point expects the period "to be the cyclical low for margins because origination volumes are seasonally the slowest through the holiday months with application volume picking up in March as the spring selling season starts to take hold," the research firm noted.

Another key trend in the making is the fact that capacity that is being evaporated through job cuts at major originators, Compass Point pointed out.

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