Thursday, October 10, 2019

CFPB: Get rid of the "Ability to Repay" Rule

During the financial crisis, many new rules and mandates were put in place to make it more difficult for lenders to issue mortgages.  This was based on the false notion that the housing bubble happened - that houses doubled in price or more in several regions - because marginal households were pressed into expensive mortgages they couldn't afford.

Those rules have made it very difficult for many qualified borrowers to buy affordable homes.  The effect has been to make homes less affordable, not more, while also damaging working class balance sheets.

Here are a couple of excerpts from my comment to the CFPB:

But after the passage of Dodd-Frank, low-tier prices in many metropolitan areas dropped by 10 percent or more, compared to high-tier prices. The metropolitan areas that had the least negative price shock after Dodd-Frank were the very expensive cities. The negative shock that followed Dodd-Frank hit the hardest in the cities where there hadn’t been a positive shock during the bubble. The cities that fed the premise that led to the passage of Dodd-Frank were the cities where prices were least affected by it (see figure A6).

Housing markets in the expensive cities have not changed much from the precrisis boom. Homes are still expensive because rents are high, and rents are high because of limited building. In all other cities, there has been a systematic change in housing markets since the crisis. Rent affordability has become worse but mortgage affordability has become better.
The demand shock created by limits to new lending has compressed price-to-rent ratios, pushing prices below replacement cost. So rents are rising, mortgage affordability in most cities is better than at any precrisis point of comparison, and supplies are stagnant because prices are too low to induce new building, especially in the most affordable markets where credit constraints are the most binding and affordability is most important. According to data from Zillow.com, the rent on the median American home claims about 28 percent of the median household’s income. In the period since the crisis, rent has generally claimed a larger portion of household income than it had at any time for decades before the crisis. But a conventional mortgage on that same home would only claim about 16 percent of the median household’s income. In contrast to rent affordability, mortgage affordability since the crisis has been better than at any time for decades before the crisis. And these shifts are most extreme in the most affordable cities. The less expensive housing is, the better a mortgage payment stacks up against the rent payment on a typical house. This is not the time to add regulatory obstacles to potential new homeowners.

Here is figure A6 and notes:

FIGURE A6. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 1ST-QUINTILE PRICE APPRECIATION AND 5TH-QUINTILE PRICE APPRECIATION, DECEMBER 2000 TO THE DATES SHOWN IN EACH COLUMN


Note: This heatmap uses the median home value at the ZIP-code level, estimated by Zillow. First, metropolitan areas were sorted into five quintiles according to metropolitan area home prices at the peak of the housing boom in 2006. Quintile 1 contains the least expensive metropolitan areas and quintile 5 contains the most expensive metropolitan areas. Next, within each metropolitan area, ZIP codes were sorted by median home price into five quintiles. And price appreciation of the lower quintiles from December 2000 to the later dates shown was compared to the price appreciation of the higher quintiles. For instance, from December 2000 to August 2007, in the least expensive metro areas (quintile 1), the least expensive ZIP codes saw an average price appreciation of 37 percent while the most expensive ZIP codes saw an average price appreciation of about 33 percent. Low-priced homes appreciated, on average, by 3.3 percent more than high-priced homes, as shown in the figure. From December 2000 to December 2013, the least expensive ZIP codes in the least expensive metro areas saw an average price appreciation of about 28 percent, compared to 36 percent for the highest-priced homes in those metro areas. So low-priced homes appreciated, on average, 6.1 percent less than high-priced homes, as shown in the figure. The figure highlights two key issues: First, the unusual and extreme rise in low-tier homes within metropolitan areas was largely confined to the most expensive cities, which allow very little building. By the time Dodd-Frank passed in July 2010, that phenomenon had reversed, and so from December 2000 to June 2010, among all types of cities, there was remarkably little variation in home price appreciation between high-tier and low-tier markets. After Dodd-Frank, low-tier prices in the expensive cities, which had previously seen extreme price appreciation during the boom, were not greatly affected. But low-tier prices in the more affordable cities, which never had extreme price appreciation, were pushed down more than 10 percent. Source: Zillow, “Economic Data,” accessed August 29, 2019, https://www.zillow.com/research/data/. The particular data series used was the median home price by ZIP code for all homes (ZIP_ZHVI_AllHomes).
 

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    Boy, the macroeconomics crowd is just barking up the wrong trees. Whether Hong Kong, Canadian cities, the west coast of the US, Australia, Great Britain, and who knows where else, the story is housing.

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  2. another link from the Dutch Central Bank

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