These charts show the continuation of the housing crisis. This spells trouble for REITs.

The information in these charts below can't be good for high dividend mortgage REIT stocks like American Capital Agency Corp. (AGNC).  Make sure you read the five important points at the end of the charts.
I believe that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae pick up the tab (pay off the mortgage) when homeowners with these mortgages walk away from their loans.  This results in an acceleration of prepayments to owners of government backed agency securities like AGNC.  Prepayments can also occur from refinancing.  AGNC does not like prepayments.  It hurts their profits.
This excerpt from AGNC's 2009 annual report explains prepayments for those of you who have never heard of them:

Agency securities differ from other forms of traditional debt securities, which normally provide for periodic payments of interest in fixed amounts with principal payments at maturity or on specified call dates. Instead, agency securities provide for a monthly payment, which may consist of both interest and principal. In effect, these payments are a “pass-through” of the monthly interest and scheduled and unscheduled principal payments (referred to as “prepayments”) made by the individual borrower on the mortgage loans, net of any fees paid to the issuer, servicer or guarantor of the securities.


The investment characteristics of agency securities differ from those of traditional fixed-income securities. The major differences include the payment of interest and principal on the securities on a more frequent schedule, as described above, and the possibility that principal may be prepaid at par at any time due to prepayments on the underlying mortgage loans. These differences can result in significantly greater price and yield volatility than is the case with traditional fixed-income securities.


Various factors affect the rate at which mortgage prepayments occur, including changes in the level and directional trends in housing prices, interest rates, general economic conditions, defaults on the underlying mortgages, the age of the mortgage loan, the location of the property and other social and demographic conditions. Generally, prepayments on agency securities increase during periods of falling mortgage interest rates and decrease during periods of rising mortgage interest rates. However, this may not always be the case. We may reinvest principal repayments at a yield that is higher or lower than the yield on the repaid investment, thus affecting our net interest income by altering the average yield on our assets.


When interest rates are declining, the value of agency securities with prepayment options may not increase as much as other fixed income securities. The rate of prepayments on underlying mortgages will affect the price and volatility of agency securities and may have the effect of shortening or extending the duration of the security beyond what was anticipated at the time of purchase. When interest rates rise, our holdings of agency securities may experience reduced returns if the owners of the underlying mortgages pay off their mortgages slower than anticipated. This is generally referred to as extension risk. 

New Credit Suisse Recast Chart

Credit Suisse has released an updated version of their popular Mortgage Reset & Recast Chart.

Here is the new one:

9085247 New Credit Suisse Recast Chart

Here is last year’s chart:

CreditSuisseResetMarch09 1024x721 New Credit Suisse Recast Chart

And, here is the original:

IMFresets New Credit Suisse Recast Chart

There are some thoughts to consider:

  1. There are about 2.5 years of huge resets and recasting ahead.  Because the foreclosure pipeline is already so backlogged, people who stop making payments during this stretch could easily end up waiting another 1-2 years before their homes are actually foreclosed upon.  Even without all of the foreclosures still to come from unemployment, it is easy to see this foreclosure crisis being with us well into 2014-2015.
  2. Because mortgage interest rates are low, “resets” are less of a problem right now. Today, “recasts” are the real threat.  A recast refers to the changing of payment options for Option-Arm loans.  Many borrowers bought the biggest home they could “afford”, using minimum payments to qualify. When the minimum payment option disappears, their monthly expense will “recast” to a substantially-higher amount, regardless of what interest rates do.
  3. Most Option-Arm loans were concentrated in higher-income areas and generally used to buy more expensive homes.  Banks that are holding lots of these on their books, like Wells Fargo, have been fairly proactive in modifying these loans now, while long term rates are low.  It will be interesting to watch, however, if many of these high-end borrowers will walk away from their mortgages as high-end prices continue to fall.
  4. Though rates are currently low, you can see how sensitive the market would be to rate hikes.  The Fed’s MBS repurchase program, the Euro, Greece, Spain, China’s Treasury holdings…all of these factors will likely weigh on mortgage rates in the coming years and have profound effects on our overall economy.
  5. Note the volume of Agency, Alt-A, and Prime loans that will be resetting over the next few years.  These were generally to more qualified buyers with good credit.  If this crowd begins to feel that walking away from their mortgages is socially acceptable, then the housing market will suffer substantially.

Link to original article:


Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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