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VOL. 128 | NO. 38 | Monday, February 25, 2013

Mortgages Jump 38 Percent in January

By Andy Meek

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Mortgage banking isn’t looking as dreary right now as it has in recent years. In Shelby County, mortgage activity began the year bouncing strongly off totals from the first month of 2012.

Total mortgage volume countywide in January was up 38 percent over the same month a year ago, climbing to almost $93 million in January from about $67 million 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 – 624, up from 467 in January 2012. The average mortgage amount also rose to $148,901 last month from $144,640 during that same period last year.

There was a bit of a drop-off in volume from the end of 2012 – but only a barely perceptible drop. Between December and January, total mortgage volume fell from a little more than $94 million to January’s total of almost $93 million. But the number of mortgages between December and January rose, from 599 to 624.

Bank of Bartlett president Harold Byrd said 2012 was a strong year for the bank’s mortgage division, which closed about $70 million separate from the mortgage loans within the bank. That represented a 30 percent increase over 2011.

Lisa Reid, executive vice president of Magna Bank’s mortgage division, likewise said 2012 was a good year, and so far 2013 also is shaping up to be strong.

“Right now, we’re pacing right on track with what we did in 2012,” Reid said. “January was a mirror of January 2012. February’s a little up, and it looks like March will be up from last year based on how we’re tracking right now.

“We’re anticipating a strong year. Obviously, the rates have ticked up a little bit, but we still anticipate there’ll be a much better purchase market, a stronger market, than it was last year. Not a huge increase, but at least on pace with that, if not a little more.”

That growth in local mortgage activity also coincides with a similar pattern in the county’s broader housing market, which saw 1,344 home sales recorded in January. That was up 46 percent from the 921 sales in January 2012.

Those trends didn’t reflect in uniformity among the performance of some of the largest Memphis-based banks. First Tennessee Bank’s January mortgage volume, for example, was $622,123, down from $643,607 in January 2012.

At the same time, Independent Bank’s mortgage volume rose during that period (from $327,300 to $472,300). And Magna Bank’s volume during that same period rose from $7.3 million to a little more than $7.4 million.

Community Mortgage Corp. led the way during January in terms of mortgage volume. Its volume rose 37 percent from January 2012 to last month (to almost $9.8 million from $7.1 million).

Reid said refinances are about 40 percent of Magna’s business right now, but they’re also seeing robust activity in the purchase market. During a typical year, refinances would be closer to 30 percent of the bank’s business, or even less.

Byrd said Bank of Bartlett’s loan volume breakdown comes out to 55 percent refinances and 45 percent purchases.

“We see the refinance market staying steady to strong due to an increase in home values and an improving economy,” he said. “Our markets within our bank and mortgage footprint area are strong home construction markets, although we serve the entire metro market area.”

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

PROPERTY SALES 39 202 12,960
MORTGAGES 25 110 8,113
BUILDING PERMITS 114 645 30,579
BANKRUPTCIES 37 122 6,186