20th October 2018

Real Estate Economists Remain Positive on U.S. Economy and CRE Industry

Glass BuildingReal estate economists continue to have a generally bullish outlook for the U.S. economy, capital markets, and real estate fundamentals. Overall, expectations have improved since the prior forecast in March 2018, and the strong second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 4.2 percent was fresh in forecasters’ minds as they weighed in on future years. Based on this forecast, the U.S. economy will easily surpass the current record for length of expansion (120 months) in mid-2019.  Consistent with a strong economy, key real estate metrics—such as NCREIF Property Index (NPI) returns and transaction volumes—moved moderately higher in this survey. While expectations have improved, the survey was completed prior to recently announced tariffs by the United States and China that could curtail growth in 2019 and possibly beyond. While there are many potential outcomes for the current trade dispute, escalated tariffs with China could dampen the next round of forecasts in April 2019.

These results are based on the semiannual ULI Real Estate Economic Forecast, prepared by the ULI Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate, which will be discussed during a webinar and released later this week. The survey was completed in September 2018 by 45 economists/analysts at 33 leading real estate organizations.

Some of the highlights from the survey, which covers the 2018–2020 forecast period, include the following:

  • U.S. GDP will grow by 3 percent in 2018, up from 2.8 percent in the last forecast. Assuming that growth hits this level, this will be the highest calendar-year growth rate of the current expansion. GDP growth is projected to stay strong in 2019 at 2.5 percent, while moderating to 1.7 percent in 2020 (down from 2 percent in the prior forecast).
  • Net job growth should average 1.77 million per year through 2020, compared with a long-term average of 1.15 million. Compared with the last forecast, expected job growth is up in 2018 and 2019 and slower in 2020. Job growth is forecast at 2.4 million in 2018, higher than the past two years and falls to 1 million in 2020, possibly due to concerns about labor availability. The national unemployment rate is forecast to drop to 3.8 percent in 2018 and 2019, the lowest rate since 1969.
  • Expected yields on the ten-year U.S. Treasury note fell slightly (10 basis points [bps]) compared with six months ago for both 2018 and 2019, somewhat surprising since the 2018 inflation rate moved up (to 2.5 percent). Forecast year-end (YE) yields are 3 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, in those years. The 2020 yield is forecast to reach 3.5 percent in 2020 (up from 3.4 percent), close to the 20-year average of 3.6 percent.
  • Real estate transaction volumes will decline slightly to $475 billion in 2018 (3 percent below 2017). The forecast for all three years is up from six months ago, with $450 billion and $415 billion projected for 2019 and 2020, respectively. Despite moderating since the cycle-peak transaction year of $569 billion in 2015, volumes are well ahead of the long-term average of $313 billion and equity and debt capital is readily available for most real estate investments.
  • Expectations for commercial mortgage–backed securities (CMBS) issuance were stable. The consensus is for an average of $86 billion in new CMBS issuance over the next three years. This level of issuance is in line with 2017 ($88 billion) and ahead of the long-term average of $79 billion.
  • Commercial real estate prices as measured by the Moody’s/RCA Commercial Property Price Index (CPPI) are projected to rise by a healthy 5 percent per year over the next three years (6 percent, 5 percent, and 4 percent, respectively), compared with the prior average of 3.4 percent and a long-term increase of 4.4 percent. As of July, the CPPI Index is up 7 percent year over year, so the 2018 forecast looks achievable.
  • Rent growth expectations for the next three years rose for hotels (revenue per available room [RevPAR]) and apartments and fell for other property types. Industrial rent growth will lead all property types with 2018–2020 growth averaging 3.2 percent, followed by apartments (2.5 percent), hotels (2.3 percent RevPAR growth), office (1.7 percent), and retail (1.3 percent). We note that except for industrial, rental growth for all property types will be below forecast inflation rates.
  • Over the next three years, national vacancy or availability rates are forecast to rise modestly for all property types, as solid demand is matched by increased supply. The apartment vacancy rate will increase to 5.2 percent in 2020 from 4.9 percent at YE 2017, consistent with the prior survey.  Industrial availability will be 7.5 percent in 2020, barely higher than in 2017 and well below the long-term average of 10.1 percent. The office vacancy rate will increase by 60 bps over the next three years, ending 2020 at 13.6 percent. Finally, retail availability will finish 2020 with 9.8 percent vacancy, an increase of 20 bps over 2017.
  • Forecast returns as measured by the NCREIF Property Index (NPI), which tracks core unleveraged institutional properties, have improved compared with the prior update. Total returns are forecast at 6.5 percent, 6 percent, and 5 percent for 2018, 2019, and 2020, respectively. Much of the forecast return will come from income, which is forecast at 5 percent in 2018 and rising to 5.3 percent in 2020. Industrial will continue as the strongest property type, with an average total return of 9.2 percent through 2019, compared with 5.8 percent for the overall index. All other property types will trail the index, with average returns of 5.5 percent for apartments, 5.1 percent for office, and 4.1 percent for retail. The retail return implies negative appreciation as the sector continues to face headwinds from e-commerce.
  • Equity real estate investment trust (REIT) returns are the one area where forecasters moved to a more pessimistic stance, with lower return expectations compared with the spring forecast. The NAREIT composite is forecast to average 4.1 percent from 2018 to 2020, about 150 bps lower than the prior forecast and well below the 20-year average of 10.8 percent. While REIT returns often diverge from private real estate in the short term, the current ULI forecast predicts six years (2015–2020) of underperformance relative to private return indices.
  • The single-family housing construction outlook weakened over the past six months, with starts forecast to rise to 900,000 and 930,000 units in 2018 and 2019, respectively, before slipping to 900,00 units in 2020, all years below the long-term annual average of almost 1 million homes.

In summary, respondents to the October 2018 ULI Real Estate Economic Forecast have become increasingly optimistic over the past six months for the first two forecast years. Strong GDP and job growth in 2018 have set the stage for solid real estate demand and absorption, particularly for the rest of 2018 and in 2019. Forecasters have signaled slowing—though still positive—growth in 2020, which could be due to a respite from the tax cut–led growth of the next 15 months or concerns that the very long current expansion cannot last forever. Expectations for the real estate market are more tempered than for the overall economy, with rent growth and return forecasts below trend and surprisingly moderate for late in the cycle. That said, if forecasters are correct about growth continuing through 2020, the 11-year real estate expansion that started in 2010 will be one of the longest on record.

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15th October 2018

FHA: We saw appraisal issues on 37% of HECM loans

Related imageThe Federal Housing Administration’s investigation into possible appraisal inflations on reverse mortgage loans revealed an issue the agency decided it must address.

On Friday, the FHA announced that it will require a second appraisal on select reverse mortgage loans that have been flagged by the agency as having the potential for an inflated property valuation. As part of the new guideline, which takes effect Oct. 1, 2018, lenders must submit their appraisals to FHA to undergo a collateral risk assessment.

In a call with reporters on Monday, the FHA revealed its reasons for making the changes.

The FHA told reporters that out of the 134,000 appraisals inputted into its automated valuation model, approximately 50,000 (37%) were inaccurate by at least 3%.

“We were trying to understand why, in a still relatively low interest rate market where house prices have returned in most major markets including in many of these states where reverse mortgages were, why were we still hemorrhaging money,” FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery said. “We thought this was a contributing factor that required further due diligence.”

In regard to the assessment methods the agency will use to enact the new policy, FHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Gisele Roget said only that it will involve multiple review factors.

“The disclosure of the tools and the methodology could result in appraisals being adjusted to conform to these factors, and therefore to preserve the integrity of this new process, we are going to be treating the assessment methodology and the valuation tools as proprietary and confidential,” Roget said.

Roget said the impact on the origination timeline should be minimal, with the risk assessment taking no longer than three days once the lender uploads the appraisal into FHA Connection.

Roget also said FHA expects to fully automate the process by December 1st.

“In the interim, we will be using the FHA Resource Center to use case warnings to let our FHA reverse mortgage lenders know whether or not, following the collateral risk assessment, a second appraisal will be required,” she said.

When asked how many appraisals FHA expected to require a second look, Montgomery said it was hard to know. He said the agency used three separate models to evaluate the presence of appraisal inflation, and that all three revealed pronounced levels in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“It’s hard to predict going forward, especially given the fact that it has come down significantly through the years, but since it’s not yet zero or close to zero, we felt it was prudent to issue this policy change at this time,” Montgomery said. “We will be monitoring it daily and we’ll certainly be reporting outage as we get more results.”

“One unique attribute also is that we’ll be able to follow these certainly by lender,” he continued, “so we’ll be looking at patterns, as some lenders are more outside the tolerance than others.”

Montgomery said putting an appraisal review process in place was the least disruptive of the potential HECM policy changes the agency considered. He also said the agency is looking at issuing another HECM program change soon, but he failed to elaborate on what this might entail.

In November, FHA will issue a report to Congress on the state of the reverse mortgage program and its impact on the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, after a 2017 report revealed its negative net value of $14.5 billion. Changes made to the HECM program last October, which reduced principal limit factors and adjust mortgage insurance premiums, were designed to help tackle the issue, but Montgomery said it won’t solve the problem entirely.

“I can tell you that the changes FHA made to the principal limit factors and the adjustments to the HECM insurance premium we instated in 2017 were designed to help, but did not – and were not intended to – and will not fully solve the financial volatility of the program,” he said.

The latest guideline is yet another measure FHA is implementing to stop the bleeding.

The agency said it plans to work closely with lenders on implementation and acknowledges the guidelines may present some challenges for both lenders and FHA as the industry adapts.

Montgomery said it will monitor the process closely to determine its effectiveness.

“We want to make sure we reassess the efficacy of the program as we go along and see where we’ll be at the year-end mark and whether this is something we’ll continue or whether or not this is something that’s been beneficial,” he said.

Roget said implementing a valuation assessment is a forward step for the reverse industry.

“The use of collateral validation tools and is truly an industry best practice, and FHA using this in the reverse mortgage space is bringing FHA in line with the rest of the mortgage industry,” she said.

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12th October 2018

Home Sales Fade Despite Robust Economy

FM-Outlook_Forecast-Snapshot_9.2018_Instagram-2400x2400MCLEAN, Va., Sept. 24, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Even with slightly improving inventory conditions and relenting home price pressures, home sales this year are now expected come in just below last year’s level, according to Freddie Mac’s (OTCQB: FMCC) September Forecast.

Although the U.S. economy and job market are firing on nearly all cylinders, the housing market has essentially stalled. Weaker affordability, homebuilder constraints and ongoing supply and demand imbalances over the summer resulted in fewer home sales and less home construction compared to earlier this year.

Freddie Mac expects many prospective homebuyers to continue to have difficulty reaching the market through the rest of the year. Total home sales (new and existing) are now forecasted to decrease 0.9 percent, and home price growth is expected to moderate to 5.5 percent.

“The spring and summer home buying and selling season ultimately ended up being a letdown, despite a faster growing economy and healthy demand for buying a home,” said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater. “Unfortunately, too many would-be buyers continue to be tripped up by not enough affordable supply and the one-two punch of much higher home prices and mortgage rates.”

Added Khater, “Prospective buyers are being squeezed the most where demand is the strongest: the entry-level portion of the market. While price appreciation is welcomingly starting to ease in many markets, weakening affordability continues to hamper overall activity.”

Forecast Highlights

  • The U.S. economy during the second quarter grew at its fastest pace (4.2 percent) in nearly four years. Solid consumer spending and business investment should keep the economy on a very strong growth path of 3.0 percent this year.
  • Mortgage rates inched backward over the summer, but have most recently started to trend higher again. Overall, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is expected to average 4.5 percent this year and 5.1 percent in 2019.
  • Weakening affordability and not enough moderately-priced homes on the market continue to affect housing activity. Total home sales (new and existing) are now forecasted to decline modestly this year to 6.07 million (6.12 million in 2017), while prices are expected to moderate, but still at a pace above inflation.
  • Decreasing refinance activity and home sales from a year ago are expected to cause single-family first-lien mortgage originations to slide around 9 percent this year to $1.65 trillion.
  • The share of cash-out refinances last quarter was the highest since the third quarter of 2008 (78 percent). However, the total dollar volume of cash-out refinance activity remains much lower than the peak seen more than a decade ago. An estimated $15.5 billion in net home equity was cashed out last quarter, which is substantially less than the peak cash-out refinance volume of $102.3 billion in the second quarter of 2006.

Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.

MEDIA CONTACT: Adam DeSanctis
703-903-2786
Adam_DeSanctis@freddiemac.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/dd173e75-3bac-4f90-ac02-dbdbab16983f

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7th October 2018

FHA TO REQUIRE SECOND APPRAISAL FOR CERTAIN REVERSE MORTGAGES

Image result for hud logoNew policy designed to reduce ‘appraisal inflation’

WASHINGTON – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) today announced that it will begin requiring lenders originating new Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs), commonly referred to as reverse mortgages, to provide a second property appraisal under certain circumstances. FHA is instructing lenders to provide a second independent property appraisal in cases where FHA determines there may be inflated property valuations.

FHA’s new requirement takes effect for case numbers assigned on or after October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. FHA will periodically review this guidance and, based on the results, may renew these requirements beyond fiscal year 2019. Read FHA’s Mortgagee Letter.

FHA will perform a risk assessment of appraisals submitted for use in new HECM originations.  Based on the outcome of that assessment, FHA may require a second appraisal be obtained prior to approving the reverse mortgage for an insurance endorsement. Under the new policy, lenders must not approve or close a HECM before FHA has performed the collateral risk assessment and, if required, a second appraisal is obtained. Where a second appraisal is required by FHA, lenders must use the lower value of the two appraisals.

The appraisal validation policy announced today will further reduce risks to FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) and protect the health of the HECM program. The financial soundness of FHA’s reverse mortgage program is contingent on an accurate determination of a property’s value and condition. The property value is used to determine the amount of equity that is available to the borrower and it is also used by FHA to determine the amount of insurance benefits paid to a mortgagee.

In a 2017 evaluation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found higher-than-expected losses in the HECM program could be attributed in part to “optimistic estimates of collateral value driven by exaggerated property appraisals when the loan was originated.” Read Reverse Mortgage Collateral: Undermaintenance or Overappraisal?.

FHA is addressing the accuracy of appraised property values due to continuing volatility in the HECM program. Last year, FHA’s Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Report to Congress found the agency’s reverse mortgage portfolio had a negative capital ratio of 19.84 percent and a negative net worth of $14.5 billion. To begin to address the financial solvency of the program, FHA instituted several reforms to the HECM program to improve its financial health and to ensure reverse mortgages remain a resource to allow senior borrowers to remain in their homes and age in place. FHA is continuing to analyze the impact of these reforms and expects to provide an assessment in its Annual Report on the financial status of the MMIF.

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HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet
at www.hud.gov and https://espanol.hud.gov.

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4th October 2018

Mortgage Rates Jump for the Fifth Straight Week

PMMS_Chart_20180927

MCLEAN, Va., Sept. 27, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that mortgage rates in the past week surged to their highest level in over seven years.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose for the fifth consecutive week to 4.72 percent – a high not seen since April 28, 2011 (4.78 percent). “The robust economy, rising Treasury yields and the anticipation of more short-term rate hikes caused mortgage rates to move up,” he said. “Even with these higher borrowing costs, it’s encouraging to see that prospective buyers appear to be having a little more success. With inventory constraints and home prices starting to ease, purchase applications have now trended higher on an annual basis for six straight weeks.”

Added Khater, “Consumer confidence is at an 18-year high, and job gains are holding steady. These two factors should keep demand up in coming months, but at the same time, home shoppers will likely deal with even higher mortgage rates.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.72 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending September 27, 2018, up from last week when it averaged 4.65 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.83 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 4.16 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.11 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.13 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.97 percent with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.92 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.20 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.

MEDIA CONTACT: Adam DeSanctis
703-903-2786
Adam_DeSanctis@freddiemac.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/393afe40-c2da-4183-9b1f-bbedda97898c

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3rd October 2018

California Law Eases Intended User Restrictions for Some Appraisals

Image result for california symbolsCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 29 signed SB 70, legislation that allows the state’s appraisers to name intended users other than a client in a restricted appraisal report.
State-certified real estate appraisers in California are required to comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and therefore cannot provide a restricted appraisal report in situations where it may be shared amongst intended users other than the client or clients who engaged the appraiser. Examples include attorney/adviser, accountant/auditor and a taxing authority.
When SB 70 takes effect Jan. 1, state-certified real estate appraiser in California will be able to produce a restricted appraisal report that identifies one or more intended users in addition to the client. The appraiser must first obtain the client’s consent, and the intended use of the appraisal cannot be for A) a mortgage lending transaction engaged by a federally regulated bank, B) the purchase or refinance of a residential dwelling of one to four units or C) a broker investment transaction, where users may not be well enough versed in the subject matter to properly understand information contained in a restricted appraisal report.
Additionally, appraisers producing a restricted appraisal report that names multiple intended users must clearly identify all users and state that the opinions and conclusions set forth in the report may not be properly understood without additional information in the appraiser’s work file. It also must be stated that there may be assumptions in the restricted appraisal report that the appraiser has not verified and that could impact the appraised value of the subject property.
The law likely will most benefit appraisers engaged for tax appeals, financial reporting and estate and tax — the types of assignments where users of the appraisal services are informed enough to understand a restricted appraisal report but do not need all the information and analysis required for an appraisal report.
The Appraisal Institute sees SB 70 as a commonsense measure that allows appraisers to better meet client needs and to compete with unlicensed service providers who are not subject to the same limitations to appraisal report provisions. It also might encourage more real estate valuation professionals to become state certified since the scope of services they can provide will no longer be arbitrarily restricted.
The provisions in SB 70 will expire Jan. 1, 2020 unless further extended by the California legislature.
The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and strongly supported by the Appraisal Institute’s California Government Relations Committee, which consists of the state’s five AI chapters.
https://www.appraisalinstitute.org/ano/california-law-eases-intended-user-restrictions-for-some-appraisals-/

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8th May 2018

FHFA Working Paper Compares AMC, Non-AMC Appraisals

The FHFA has released a new paper, authored by Jessica Shui and Shriya Murthy, that examines how appraisals conducted by appraisal management companies compare to those conducted by lenders themselves. What’s the verdict? According to the FHFA paper, “the results indicate no clear evidence of any systematic quality differences between appraisals associated and unassociated with AMCs.” In other words, the FHFA data suggests that the appraisal results provided by AMCs are statistically very similar to those provided by lenders working without a middleman. …continue reading the rest of this post: FHFA Working Paper Compares AMC, Non-AMC Appraisals

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7th May 2018

The Appraisal Subcommittee Denies Bank’s Request for Appraisal Waiver

The Appraisal Subcommittee unanimously rejected a temporary waiver request from TriStar Bank of Dickson, Tennessee, during a special meeting April 23 in Washington. The Appraisal Institute led industry efforts opposing the bank’s request for a waiver of certification requirements, which would have allowed appraisals to be completed by non-certified appraisers. …continue reading the rest of this post: The Appraisal Subcommittee Denies Bank’s Request for Appraisal Waiver

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5th May 2018

Appraisals are not required for commercial real estate transactions from $250,000 to $500,000

Federal Agencies Approve Rule Doubling Appraisal Threshold for CRE

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on March 20 approved a final rule that will double the appraisal threshold for commercial real estate transactions. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System are expected to adopt the rule soon.

The federal banking regulatory agencies maintained the $250,000 threshold level for one- to four-unit single family residential loans. They also maintained the $1 million threshold level for business (owner occupied commercial real estate) loans. …continue reading the rest of this post: Appraisals are not required for commercial real estate transactions from $250,000 to $500,000

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23rd April 2018

Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) will hold a Public Meeting on May 4, 2018

Appraiser Qualifications Board

Public Meeting

Seattle, WA – May 4, 2018

9:00 am – 12:00 pm PDT

The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) will hold a Public Meeting on May 4, 2018, in Seattle, WA. The meeting will focus on implementation of changes to the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria that were adopted on February 1, 2018, and become effective May 1, 2018. All are encouraged to attend the meeting in person or watch remotely via live stream.

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