VOL. 129 | NO. 73 | Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Mortgage Market Sees Small First-Quarter Gains
By Andy Meek
Shelby County’s mortgage market started off 2014 a bit tame, not as chilly as the weather but not exactly bursting with energy either.
Local banks and mortgage lenders made 1,617 purchase mortgages during the first quarter, flat compared with the 1,624 mortgages during first quarter 2013, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.
Data for this report include purchase mortgages only, not refinances.
Mortgages averaged $163,619 during the quarter, up almost 3 percent from the $158,903 average during the same period in 2013. The total volume inched up about 2 percent to a little more than $264 million during the first quarter of this year from a little more than $258 million in the first quarter of 2013.
The first quarter’s volume was a noticeable drop, though, from the nearly $320 million in mortgage volume for fourth quarter 2013. Nevertheless, some bankers are expecting the thaw they believed the market experienced in the first quarter to warm up a bit in the coming weeks.
“Now that spring is here, the real estate market it is starting to warm up after an unusually harsh winter,” said Jim Rout, president and CEO of BankTennessee, which saw its mortgage volume rise to almost $970,000 in the first quarter, up from a little less than $250,000 in the year-earlier period. “We’re getting lots of activity with mortgage inquiries and applications.”
Likewise, First State regional bank president Steve Weaver said he believes the mortgage market looks ready to improve after harsh weather in January and February “kept people from house-shopping.” His bank grew its volume to a little more than $1.7 million during the first quarter, up from almost $270,000 one year earlier.
“Since March,” he said, “clients are coming in to get preapproved for a mortgage as they look for housing. Inventory levels appear to be fairly low, as the strong construction tries to catch up from weather delays and demand. We have a strong outlook on home purchases for the rest of 2014, with rates not expected to rise until late in the year. Lending guidelines (also) appear to be loosening, with credit score limits lowering from 640 to 620 for many loan programs.”
The basic flatness in mortgage volume in the first quarter stands in contrast to the fact that the county’s home sales stumbled during the same quarter. Between January and March, there were 3,270 home sales, down 3 percent from 3,383 in the first quarter of 2013.
Looking at first-quarter mortgage activity at a selection of Memphis-area banks, First Tennessee Bank was up by volume, growing to almost $3.9 million and 10 mortgages during the first quarter of this year, compared with a little more than $3.7 million and 13 mortgages during the first quarter of 2013.
March Mortgages Rise Slightly
March 2014 fared slightly better than the same month in 2013, in terms of mortgage volume.
Total volume rose slightly to $102.9 million last month, up from a little more than $100 million a year ago, according to Chandler Reports.
There were 610 mortgages made last month, a 2.1 percent increase from the 597 in March 2013. The average mortgage amount was $168,722, up from $167,814 in March 2013.
The totals for last month also represent gains over all those metrics in the previous month. February 2014 saw 456 mortgages in Shelby County, with an average mortgage of $158,174 and total volume of a little more than $72 million.
The top lenders last month were Iberiabank Mortgage Co., with 42 mortgages; Magna Bank, with 46 mortgages; Community Mortgage Corp., with 43 mortgages; and Patriot Bank, with 31 mortgages.
– Andy Meek
Independent Bank grew its mortgage levels from 10 mortgages and less than $1 million in volume during first quarter 2013 to 17 mortgages and a little more than $3.2 million in volume during the first quarter of this year.
During that same period, Magna Bank saw a small decline in volume, dropping to 120 mortgages and a little less than $21 million in volume, compared with 115 mortgages and a little more than $22 million in volume a year ago. Iberiabank, on the other hand, went from 70 mortgages and a little more than $13 million in volume to 94 mortgages and almost $18 million in volume.
Metropolitan Bank saw its mortgages grow but its volume decline slightly during that period. Metropolitan went from 14 mortgages and a volume of a little more than $6.1 million to 26 mortgages and a volume of a little more than $5.8 million, according to Chandler Reports.
Chandler Reports is a division of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc.