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VOL. 132 | NO. 30 | Friday, February 10, 2017

Mortgage Market Shows Strength In January

By Andy Meek

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2017 may be another busy stretch for mortgage bankers in Shelby County, if the atypically busy start to the year is any indication.

Purchase mortgage volume came out of the gate strong in January, rising 28 percent to a little more than $112 million compared with $87.4 million in the year-ago period, according to the latest figures from real estate information company Chandler Reports, chandlerreports.com.

The number of mortgages themselves likewise shot up, climbing 23 percent to 680 from 551 a year ago.

David Umsted, vice president of Triumph Mortgage, said his institution is already anticipating 2017 to represent an improvement over 2016’s mortgage totals.

“We’ve got a lot of first-time homebuyers that are kind of on the sidelines right now that have been prequalified and are looking for that house, because these houses are going off the market pretty quickly in certain parts of town,” he said. “We’ve also got a down payment grant program we’re starting in March. It’s a $5,000 grant that folks can use for a down payment. There’s certain income limits that apply, and we’ve got a lot of borrowers in the pipeline waiting for that to hit.”

The purchase side of his – and many lenders’ – business continues to improve at the moment. As has also been a norm in much of the market recently, Umsted said refinances at Triumph are going down, “but that’s not really what we’ve focused on.”

A Paragon Bank executive told The Daily News a version of that same thing at year’s end – that Paragon expects to see even more robust purchase activity in 2017 while refinances taper off.

Over at First Tennessee Bank, West Tennessee president Bo Allen is seeing the same trend, looking back over his bank’s performance in January and pointing to a slowdown in refinances in tandem with a slight bump in interest rates.

“We’re seeing an increase in purchases,” he said. “More purchase money mortgages, especially for January and February, and we think it’s going to continue. Our volume at this time is higher than it has been the last few years, and we anticipate it getting better as the spring gets here.”

For now, the January numbers represent a sign of what’s to come.

In addition to making more mortgages, lenders also are extending bigger mortgages. The average mortgage amount last month stood at $165,145, up from $158,631 during the year-ago period, according to Chandler Reports.

Bankers told The Daily News that specific areas of the county, including Germantown, Collierville and East Memphis, tend to be among the hotter markets at the moment. That’s a more narrowly tailored assessment than what brokers and mortgage lenders were saying in 2016, when at times activity was said to be more widespread around the area.

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

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 20 39 190
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 17 135 753
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0