Next year promises to be a tough year for the mortgage banking industry, according to a new forecast released by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW).
‘We forecast residential mortgage origination volume of $1.54 trillion in 2013, down from an estimated $1.7 trillion in 2012 and $1.35 trillion in 2011,’ says KBW. ‘While origination volume will be driven by refinance activity in 2013, the forecast year-over-year decline reflects lower overall refinance volume versus 2012.’
KBW forecasts continued improvement in mortgage credit trends, although increasing delinquency rates in the Federal Housing Administration portfolio is also likely. As for a political resolution on the status of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), KBW is not optimistic.
‘We do not expect meaningful political change in the mortgage market in 2013, as GSE reform remains tied up in Congress,’ KBW continues. ‘However, we expect changes to continue to take place through the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.’
KBW is also predicting that returns on mortgage investments will contract year-over-year, driven by the flatter yield curve. Next year may also be a difficult one for real estate investment trusts (REITs).
‘We anticipate that this will result in a challenging investment environment for the mortgage REITs, especially so for the agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) REITs,’ KBW says. ‘The one positive from a prepayment perspective is that mortgage industry capacity constraints should help keep prepayments relatively contained. We continue to favor hybrid mortgage REITs that hold non-agency MBS as well as agency MBS. These companies have lower prepayment risk and have the opportunity to invest in assets outside the agency MBS market.’
Within mortgage servicing landscape, KBW believes next year will ‘largely be a continuation of 2012 as higher-touch delinquent servicing is moved to companies that specialize in that area.’