Mortgage Market Rises 22 Percent in July

By Andy Meek

The month of July may help buoy expectations among optimistic participants in the mortgage industry that a housing recovery is taking hold in Shelby County.

Mortgage volume for the month was up almost 22 percent in July, climbing to almost $173 million last month from $142.2 million in July 2012, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports,

The number of actual mortgages made during the month was 948, up from 826 in July 2012. The average mortgage amount rose to $182,214 last month from $172,197 in July 2012.

Last month’s mortgage totals likewise saw improvements over the previous month’s numbers. The number of mortgages made from June to July rose to 948 in July from 810 in June. The average mortgage amount was down a little ($182,214 in July from $183,773 in June) but the total volume got a healthy bump, hitting $173 million in July from almost $149 million in June.

Year to date, mortgage volume in Shelby County was about $802 million, up from about $703 million during the same period in 2012.

Those gains correspond to improvement in local home sales, which Chandler numbers show were on the ascent in July. Shelby County saw 1,695 home sales last month, up 19 percent from 1,420 sales in July 2012.


“It seems like volume is definitely picking up,” said Triumph Bank president and CEO Will Chase. “The volume of home purchases is increasing. The market seems to be getting better.”

And Triumph isn’t sitting on the market’s sidelines. Chase’s bank recently inked a deal that more than quadruples its mortgage staff by acquiring the mortgage division of Merchants & Planters Bank.

That effectively grows Triumph’s mortgage staff from five to 22.

Steve Weaver, regional bank president for the Memphis area for First State Bank, said his colleagues continue to see mortgage demand in the local market move toward purchases.

“Although long-term rates have risen slightly over the past couple of months, qualified borrowers are still being able to lock in for 30 years in the mid-4s, which is extremely attractive,” Weaver said. “Many homeowners that refinanced but delayed moving during the Great Recession believe this low-rate window of opportunity is closing. These families have built some financial strength and stability over the past five years and feel they’re ready to invest in a new home, even though the economy hasn’t fully recovered. As a result, our builders are seeing much stronger demand for their product, which is keeping mortgage volume elevated.”

July’s overall gains for the month weren’t reflected across the board in the numbers posted by the biggest banks based in Memphis.

The picture, in fact, was mixed. First Tennessee Bank’s July mortgage volume was $2.5 million, down from $4.5 million in July 2012, according to Chandler Reports.

Independent Bank’s mortgage volume, though, was up during the same period, rising from $170,850 to $316,000. But Magna Bank’s volume fell, from $15.4 million to $6.8 million.

Community Mortgage Corp. is generally out in front of the competition from one month to the next when it comes to mortgage volume, and its volume was up during July. Community Mortgage Corp.’s July volume was $16.6 million, up from $11.7 million one year earlier.

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