Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news across HousingWire's weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues.
Two big legal milestones appear to have been reached – one for Countrywide and one for Citigroup (C) – both of which will have wide-ranging impact. It’s been a long four years in the making and now Countrywide’s $8.5 billion rep and warranty settlement was fully approved and a modified judgment to this effect was entered into the New York Supreme Court on April 27.
A client note from Barclays says that, barring any unforeseen eventualities, this should pave the way for the $8.5 billion to finally flow to the deals in the months ahead.
In fact, trustee-appointed experts should now calculate the allocable shares for each deal/group within 90 days and Bank of America (BAC) should make the payment to each covered trust within 120 days, as stipulated in the settlement agreement.
“Overall it should not, in our view, take more than a few months for trusts to finally receive the settlement payouts,” Barclays analysts say.
On the second front, there seem to be no objectors to Citigroup’s proposed $1.125 billion rep and warranty settlement covering 68 trusts. After the trustees had sought judicial instruction on the matter and filed an Article 77 proceeding in New York Supreme Court last December, the court had entered an order to show cause, asking that those who wished to be heard in opposition to the Settlement Agreement must submit their objection by April 17, 2015.
Unless an objector is able to show a good cause for the delay in filing, they will not be allowed to intervene in the proceeding.
“As such, given the absence of objectors, the court could reach a summary determination in favor of the Trustees and approve the settlement quite soon. The next hearing on this case is scheduled for May 19 and we see a high likelihood that the trusts could receive the settlement-related payouts this year,” Barclays says.
Elsewhere and throughout most markets, home prices and rents keep rising, but sharply declining homeownership means fewer households are benefitting and more and more households are being priced out of homeownership and forced to pay higher rents, a client note from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch says.
Similarly, home prices are up by 25% from the bottom in December 2011, while personal income has only grown by 12.8%, roughly half the level of home price growth. In the past (think housing bubble/crisis), large divergences between home price growth and income growth had disastrous consequences.
Analysts are aware but not panicking.
“At the moment, disaster is not likely looming, but the divergence is at least cause for concern, particularly for the Fed, who has pursued an asset/real estate inflation policy for the past six years. The divergences noted above - between home prices and homeownership and between home price growth and income growth - highlight the transmission challenges faced by the Fed, and why hiking rates may be necessary, if somewhat hard to justify,” says Chris Flanagan at BAML. “The Fed may feel compelled to rein in home price inflation but, at the same time, acknowledge 1Q GDP was a bust for more than just transitory reasons and take note, at least tacitly, that the economic surprise index is hovering at the lowest levels since mid-2012, just before QE3 was rolled out.”
The Urban Institutes’ Housing Finance Policy Center summarizes their analysis of what kept first-timers out of the mortgage market in 2014.
In their brief, A Closer Look at the Data on First-Time Homebuyers, the researchers examined over 1.8 million Federal Housing Administration and GSE loans. They found that while the overall share of first-time homebuyers declined for all loans, the share actually went up when looking at GSE and FHA loans separately.
Their conclusion: the source of the overall decline in first-time homebuyers is a decline in FHA-insured mortgage originations, which are primarily made to those borrowers.
The big thing this week is the jobs thing. Jobs and housing are connected at the hip along with wages and housing. And household formation and housing. Anyway, last month was a terrible miss for job creation by U.S. employers.
The early indicator will come on Wednesday, with Gallup's Job Creation Index. This measure is based on a question that Gallup tracks daily, asking a nationally representative sample of 500 to 600 working adults, aged 18 and older, and reports monthly based on approximately 14,000 interviews.
Optimistic analysts expect in Friday’s official report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics a rebound in April, to 220,000 – which is positive but barely above replacement level, usually pegged around 200,000 for a month.
The consensus range for April is very wide, from only 180,000 on the low side to a very robust 335,000 on the high side, proving if nothing else that perhaps some economics programs in colleges are a little slack on their standards.
No banks were closed the week ending May 1, according to the FDIC.