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VOL. 129 | NO. 29 | Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shelby County Mortgage Market Dips in January

By Andy Meek

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Shelby County’s mortgage market entered 2014 in less of a turbo-charged fashion than it did at the same point last year.

New figures show total mortgage volume in the county was down 5 percent in January compared to January 2013, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. Data for this report did not include refinances.

The percentage decline last month equated to volume in the county during January slipping from a little more than $94 million in January 2013 to a little more than $89 million last month.

The number of mortgages made also fell, to 552 last month from 623 in January 2013. However, the average mortgage amount rose to $161,856 last month from $150,946 a year ago.

Last month’s 552 mortgages marked a small drop from the 587 filed the previous month of December. December also had a higher overall volume ($93.9 million versus almost $90 million last month), but the average mortgage amount rose from December to January (from $160,095 to $161,856).


With those trends in mind, Bank of Bartlett chief financial officer Justin Byrd described the local real estate market as robust and profitable at the moment, “but not without its challenges.”

Cold weather and a shortage of supply, he explained, have contributed to a slower pace of home sales. That’s something the Chandler numbers bear out.

Shelby County home sales fell along with the temperature in January, dropping 18 percent from January 2013. Realtors sold 1,101 homes in the county last month, down from 1,338 in the same month a year ago.

Byrd also notes that interest rates are up from last year, though still near historic lows. Furthermore, he believes the market is showing positive signs in a few areas.

“With continued low interest rates, significantly improved home prices and lower unemployment, the Memphis-area real estate market should be stronger as we move into the spring,” Byrd said. “Higher home prices should create some liquidity for homeowners who were previously under water, and the idea of homes being an investment is starting to resurface.”

The declines of last month contrast to where the market stood at this point in January 2013. Back then, mortgage volume countywide was up 38 percent over the previous January in 2012. Volume, number of mortgages and average mortgage amount all rose from January 2012 to January 2013, and at the end of 2013, the county’s mortgage market ended with a modest improvement over 2012, with signs pointing to more advances in 2014.

“Now that we’re kind of getting into the first of the year, we’re seeing refinances slow down, it seems like, and purchases are starting to increase, which is pretty typical,” said Paul Ince, lending supervisor at Orion Federal Credit Union. “It does look like the interest is out there to buy.”

The biggest local banks based in Memphis include First Tennessee Bank, Independent Bank and Magna Bank. First Tennessee’s mortgage volume in January was a little more than $2 million last month, up from $622,123 in January 2013, according to Chandler.

Independent Bank’s mortgage volume doubled, going to $953,161 last month from $472,300 in January 2013. However, Magna’s volume fell 17 percent, from $7.4 million to $6.2 million over the two January periods.

Iberiabank, perhaps in keeping with its growth ambitions locally, was another of the local gainers, seeing its mortgage volume notch a small increase over the two January periods (to almost $5 million from $4.6 million). Along those lines, on Jan. 2 Iberiabank expanded its residential mortgage lending team with the addition of a four-person group.

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

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PROPERTY SALES 110 405 5,939
MORTGAGES 141 492 7,092
BUILDING PERMITS 161 1,006 12,591
BANKRUPTCIES 43 259 4,347

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