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VOL. 127 | NO. 250 | Monday, December 24, 2012

County’s Mortgage Market Up 7 Percent

By Andy Meek

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If they had any worries about next year’s taxes, the fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty, the local mortgage market saw borrowers brush them aside during November.

Continuing a pattern that’s been more the rule than the exception this year, Shelby County’s mortgage market keeps growing at a steady clip, and continued doing so through last month. Total mortgage volume countywide in November was up 7 percent over November 2011, climbing to almost $93 million in November 2012 from about $87 million during the same period last year, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

In addition to the uptick in volume, there were more mortgages made last month – 596, up from 568 in November 2011. And the average mortgage amount rose to $155,579 last month from $152,742 during that same period last year.

“Business continues strong in this area, particularly with (refinances),” said Jim Rout, president and CEO of BankTennessee.

There was a bit of a drop-off from the prior month, however. Between October and November, total mortgage volume fell from $111.2 million to November’s total of almost $93 million. The number of mortgages between October and November also fell (from 732 to 596), but the average mortgage amount ticked up (from $151,861 to $155,579).

That growth in local mortgage activity also coincides with general improvement in the county’s housing market, which saw 1,185 home sales recorded in November, up 15.8 percent from the 1,023 sales in November 2011.

And year-to-date home sales activity is up 17.5 percent, with 13,771 sales recorded through November, according to Chandler Reports.

“On the whole, our local mortgage market continues to grow stronger,” said Evolve Bank & Trust president and CEO Scott Stafford. “We have seen some leveling off in home refinancing recently. However, home purchases continue to gain traction, particularly homes that are in the $250,000 range.

“In the near future, I believe we will continue to see growth in this market, and we’re looking forward to offering our services throughout the community.”

Political and macroeconomic concerns may be playing at least a small part in the decisions. Though interest rates are widely expected to remain low for a few more years, Congress and the White House at press time had not yet figured out how to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

So borrowers who are in a position to do so may be eager to lock in any decisions now, since next year everything from tax rates to the popular mortgage interest deduction could change.

Meanwhile, some of the largest Memphis-based banks saw a mixed performance in November.

First Tennessee Bank’s November mortgage volume was $370,500, down from $1.3 million in November 2011.

Independent Bank’s mortgage volume rose during that period (from $27,930 to $449,410).

Magna Bank’s volume during that same period dropped from $8.5 million to $8.1 million. However, Magna made more mortgages during that same period – increasing its amount from 43 mortgages in November 2011 to 50 mortgages last month.

Community Mortgage Corp. led the way during November in terms of mortgage volume. But its volume shrank 25 percent from November 2011 to last month (from $13.3 million to $9.9 million).

Community Mortgage Corp.’s November 2012 total also was down from its volume during the previous month of October ($14 million).

Chandler Reports is a division of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc.

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PROPERTY SALES 119 482 10,051
MORTGAGES 119 497 11,811
BUILDING PERMITS 268 1,056 21,366
BANKRUPTCIES 50 263 6,700

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