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VOL. 131 | NO. 75 | Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mortgage Market Up 3 Percent In March

By Andy Meek

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Shelby County’s mortgage market closed out the first quarter by posting March numbers that headed in the direction bankers and real estate professionals like to see.

Last month’s total purchase mortgage volume was a little more than $131 million, up by $3.4 million over March 2015’s total of almost $128 million, for a gain of about 3 percent. That’s according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

The increase over the past two months is even more pronounced. Last month’s volume of more than $131 million represented an even bigger jump over February’s $103.3 million.

Year to date through the end of March, purchase mortgage volume in Shelby County so far this year has approached $322 million, up 9 percent from $294.3 million at this time last year.


Evolve Bank & Trust president and CEO Scott Stafford attributes the market’s results in part to where interest rates currently stand.

“So far this year rates have been lower than we had initially forecasted, and the dovish comments from the Federal Reserve lead us to believe they will remain low for the remainder of this year, which continues to drive high loan demand,” Stafford said. “The Fed will not meet again until June of this year, and we believe any rate increases will be purely market driven.”

Along those same lines, Bank of Bartlett chief financial officer Justin Byrd said his bank’s mortgage loan pipeline is currently at its highest level since 2002.

“The Memphis area mortgage market continues to be strong,” he said. “With mortgage rates at their lowest level in over a year, increased home equity for most due to property appreciation, and the start of good weather, we are seeing increased activity in the market … Declining foreclosures and increasing new lot development, which are now taking place, bode well for the near future.”

Kirk Bailey, the Memphis chairman of Pinnacle Financial Partners, likewise says his institution has a growing mortgage pipeline fueled by attractive interest rates, good housing inventories in most submarkets, and warmer weather bringing out home buyers.

Countywide, one thing that didn’t increase last month over March 2015’s numbers was the average mortgage amount – which actually got smaller. Last month, that figure was $167,779; one year prior, it stood at $174,031.

Volume, at least, was up over that same span, as was the number of mortgages themselves. There were 781 mortgages made last month, up from 733 during the year-ago period.

That same trend is evident in the year-to-date numbers (the average mortgage is down, while the number of mortgages themselves is up.) Year-to-date through March 31, the average mortgage amount stood at $164,322. In the year-earlier period, it was $169,181.

As for the mortgages themselves, year-to-date there have been 1,958 mortgages, up from 1,740 during the year-ago period.

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

PROPERTY SALES 32 252 16,449
MORTGAGES 35 120 10,207
BUILDING PERMITS 215 1,041 39,585
BANKRUPTCIES 52 188 7,785