The Lending Hole at the Bottom of the Homeownership Market

Link: https://www.newamerica.org/future-land-housing/reports/the-lending-hole-at-the-bottom-of-the-homeownership-market/

Graphic:

Abstract:

While conventional wisdom maintains that high home prices are to blame for declining homeownership rates, there is another elusive barrier stopping millions of would-be homeowners: banks are increasingly unwilling to write small dollar mortgages. One fifth of owner-occupied homes in the United States cost less than $100,000, but due to unintended consequences of the Dodd-Frank Act, among other factors, banks are opting out of writing small dollar loans. Instead, more than three quarters of small dollar homes are purchased in cash, often by investors or well-off individuals. This lending gap locks millions of low-and-moderate income families out of homeownership, and exacerbates the racial homeownership gap as these small dollar homes are a critical source of homeownership for many first-time buyers in Black and Hispanic communities.

In this report, the Future of Land and Housing program at New America and the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM) at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) focus on three dimensions of this problem: 1) the unavailability of financing for small dollar loans; 2) the catch-22 of “mortgage standards”; and 3) competition with all-cash buyers at a national level and through a local case study of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, North Carolina.

Author(s): Sabiha Zainulbhai, Zachary D. Blizard, Craig J. Richardson, Yuliya Panfil

Publication Date: 9 Nov 2021

Publication Site: New America

From the Archives: “How Dodd-Frank Locks Out the Least Affluent Homebuyers”

Link: https://vpostrel.substack.com/p/from-the-archives-how-dodd-frank?utm_source=substack

Excerpt:

This Axios report on a JPMorgan Chase program giving black and Latino borrowers $5,000 toward down payments or home loan closing costs reminded me of a column I wrote in November [2021].  It’s about one of the most infuriating public policy fiascos I’ve run into in a very long time. Hardly anyone knows about this regulatory devastation of household wealth amog people whose inexpensive homes represented years of thrift and hard work. (The only reason I learned of it is that I happened to meet Craig Richardson at an unrelated conference.) It is absolutely heartbreaking. It reminds me of the famous quote from The Great Gatsby: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

….

About one in five U.S. homes are valued at $100,000 or less. And despite their low prices, they’ve gotten extremely hard to sell. When they move at all, these small-dollar properties tend to go for cash. Lenders increasingly won’t write mortgages for them.

“Over the last decade, origination for mortgage loans between $10,000 and $70,000 and between $70,000 and $150,000 has dropped by 38 percent and 26 percent, respectively, while origination for loans exceeding $150,000 rose by a staggering 65 percent,” reports a new study on small-dollar mortgages from the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston-Salem State University and the Future of Land and Housing program at the New America think tank. The study is scheduled for release on Tuesday [Nov 9, 2021].

The culprits behind the disappearance of small-dollar mortgages are lending restrictions enacted with good intentions and warped by economic blind spots. Designed to protect borrowers and the financial system, the Dodd-Frank Act regulations passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis “increased the fixed costs and the per-loan costs of extending a mortgage,” says the study. The regulation-imposed costs made small-dollar mortgages a lousy proposition for lenders.

Compounding the problem, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau then limited the fees that lenders could charge as closing costs. For profit-oriented lenders, small-dollar mortgages are no longer worth the trouble. At best, they squeeze out the tiniest of margins. At worst, they don’t even cover the fixed cost of processing the loan.

Author(s): Virginia Postrel

Publication Date: 25 June 2022

Publication Site: Virginia’s Newsletter at substack