Market Commentary 11/4/2023

Fed’s Commentary Eases Bond Market As Yields Fall

Both bond prices (yields move inversely to price) and equities moved higher this week. This event was spurred by what many believe to be the end of the Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking cycle. Unemployment and manufacturing data came in worse than expected. When coupled with the commentary on rising subprime auto delinquencies, signs indicate that consumers, especially those on the lower end, are reaching their financial limits. It’s hard to believe that less than two weeks ago, the markets were quite worried about the 10-year Treasury touching 5%. However, the all-important 5% threshold was breached but never did close above that critical level.

In this classic “bad news is good news” situation for both bonds and stocks, the markets have found comfort in the 10-year falling back down to around 4.5%. Assuming the 10-year stays at this level, and that mortgage term premiums shrink, it is not impossible to see mortgage rates in the mid-5s. This would be welcomed news for mortgage originators and real estate brokers alike.

It is important to note that the volatile moves in US government bonds are not healthy, which makes lending decisions quite difficult. Watching bonds move over 50 basis points in three days is rare and emblematic of the varying views on economic and geopolitical risks. The relaxation of bond yields suggests that traders were either expecting a much more hawkish Federal Chairman, that geopolitical risks are rising, or that the economy is deteriorating, as supported by the fall in oil prices.

While the world is in a heightened state of anxiety, lower rates have the potential to encourage risk-taking, refinances for real estate and businesses, as well as a renewal in purchases of big-ticket items like homes, autos, and machinery. The real estate market was frozen when conforming loans touched nearly 8% late last month, as lenders feared the 10-year would quickly run well above 5%. That risk has been significantly reduced by this week’s action in the bond market, and we are happy to report this positive development.

Market Commentary 10/27/2023

Even the Experts Perplexed By Market

10/27/2023 Market Sector Watch, CNBC

If you find yourself puzzled by the current state of the markets, you’re not alone. We’ve engaged in extensive conversations with experts from various sectors over the past week, and here’s a glimpse of their insights.

Hedge Fund Manager & Distressed Debt Manager

The landscape has become perplexing. The economy seems to be slowing down, yet consumers are still spending. Interest rates remain relatively stable, even in the face of adverse news. Surprisingly, positive tech stock numbers have had little impact on the overall market. We’re exploring opportunities in subprime credit, but our bids are struggling to gain traction due to excess liquidity and intense competition. It underscores the tremendous cash influx in recent years, and perhaps the Fed’s restraint hasn’t been stringent enough. Nonetheless, there are signs of an economic slowdown, with consumers depleting their savings. Subprime auto loans are showing signs of significant stress, a concerning development.

Head of Lending at a Large Warehouse Bank

Housing prices have held steady despite soaring rates, largely because a significant number of individuals secured mortgages below 5%. This has limited the housing supply and kept prices elevated, even as mortgage rates have tripled in some cases. While there’s a possibility of rates plummeting due to geopolitical risks, such as a three-front war or escalation, it’s currently more of a low-probability scenario than a base-case expectation. We are carefully watching the market and may pull back on some lending lines should there be more deterioration in the bond market.

Regional Home Builder

We’re witnessing robust activity, but rising input and interest rates, along with increased incentives, have eroded our profitability. We’re now investing in better technology to meticulously manage costs. We were caught off guard by how off our cost estimates were, and this realization came too late.

Plastic Surgeon

Despite continued customer demand for aesthetic procedures, there’s an increasing trend of customers seeking financing for these services. Strangely, September was not a strong month for us.

E-Commerce Marketing Firm

We’re busier than ever, with numerous businesses transitioning to fully automated e-commerce platforms. For many companies still relying on legacy systems, it’s a do-or-die situation, so there’s no sign of slowing down.

Owner of a Large Toyota Dealership

Business is good but not great, but there are indications of a slowdown as inventory accumulates, and supply chains face challenges.

Multiple Realtors

There are deals in the market, but the competition remains fierce, especially in the 1 to 4 million dollar price range in Southern California.

When considering all the perspectives together, where does this leave us?

Consumers continue to spend, but perhaps years of low rates and a robust economy have created a sense of complacency. Yet, indicators like subprime debt and certain high-frequency metrics suggest a slowdown. Inflation has ceased its ascent but remains distant from the Fed’s 2% target. Savings are dwindling. Until now, the real estate sector has been relatively unscathed, with the primary impact felt in office properties. However, with 5% Treasury rates looming, other segments are likely to feel the effects. Equities had a challenging week, even in the wake of a nearly 5% GDP growth report, leaving a somber mood. Our sense, if we were to hazard a guess, is that the economy might be on the brink of a recession. However, it’s worth acknowledging that those who’ve been on recession watch have been premature in their predictions. With two job openings for every job seeker, the job market remains tight.

Market Commentary 10/20/2023

10-Year Hits 16-Year High as Fed Extends Higher Rates Push  

In these uncertain times, geopolitical risks rightly dominate headlines. However, the expected “flight to quality” trade, where U.S. interest rates typically decrease as investors seek the safety of government-guaranteed bonds during conflicts, has been notably absent. The primary reason appears to be that substantial government spending has overwhelmed the bond market, in addition to major foreign holders of U.S. debt becoming sellers. Currently, the private sector, including businesses, individuals, and funds, has stepped in to fill this gap. Still, without foreign support, it is likely that bond yields will not fall by much if at all. 

Despite the recent poor performance of the equity market, overall economic data remains relatively strong. Retail spending data released earlier this week indicates that consumers are still spending, albeit more cautiously. Additionally, initial jobless claims came in lower than expected, which underscores an increasingly tight labor market. Even so, it is unlikely that the Fed will raise short-term interest rates at their next meeting, even though the data suggests otherwise. This is because the longer end of the yield curve is rising, with 10-year Treasuries grazing 5% before finally settling at 4.91% on Friday morning. The 10-year Treasury note rate serves as the benchmark for pricing all forms of personal, real estate, and business debt. The rapid increase in yields on this instrument is adding pressure to all types of borrowers, so the Fed may allow the market to contribute to slowing down the economy. 

Loans, Rates, and Real Estate

Real estate, which is highly sensitive to interest rates, continues to face challenges. It is difficult to gauge precisely how higher rates have affected prices due to sluggish sales. However, builder sentiment is declining, and new home sales show signs of following suit, despite incentives offered by home builders such as buy-downs and free upgrades. The commercial lending markets are under significant pressure, as a 5% 10-year Treasury rate is expected to push cap rate floors to 6% or even higher. Private debt funds providing bridge loans remain active, while traditional banks are cautious on most deals. With many billions of dollars in loan resets scheduled for 2024, the commercial lending market is shaping up to be remarkably interesting. 

We have said it before and will reiterate that in today’s market, independent mortgage brokers with a wide range of lending options are providing value to potential borrowers. The significant disparity in rates from one bank to another often reflects the bank’s perception of the economy, the housing market, or the local area, rather than market conditions alone. Large banks are keeping their margins healthy, except for their high-net-worth clients. Brokers are once again making a meaningful difference. 

Insignia Mortgage Welcomes Patrick McKenna

We are excited to share the latest addition to our all-star team at Insignia Mortgage, Patrick McKenna, a seasoned broker associate. Patrick brings a wealth of experience and expertise to our organization, having been in the mortgage industry since 1997. His success in the lending business is truly exceptional. In 2003, Patrick founded Direct Financial Group Inc. in Irvine, CA, and quickly grew it to $1b per year in loan fundings. He has also worked at Union Bank, Banc of California, and CS Financial.  Most recently, he held the position of President at Palisades Funding, Inc., a boutique mortgage brokerage in Pacific Palisades, CA that catered to high-net individuals and developer-financing needs. He is currently the President of Palisades Development Company Inc., a high-end property developer. In addition to all his accolades in the mortgage industry, Patrick has an MBA and BA. Insignia Mortgage looks forward to providing an even higher level of success and elevated service to our clients, with Patrick on board.  

Patrick McKenna

“I am thrilled to be working with Insignia Mortgage as their loan programs, knowledge of the industry and professionalism will go hand in hand with my clientele in helping fund their mortgage needs.  Insignia really has become the premier loan origination company and it’s an honor to work with everyone involved.”

Learn more about Insignia Mortgages’ individualized lending solutions and why we are California’s Jumbo Loan Experts. Connect with us today at (link to contact us page).  

Market Commentary 10/13/2023

Signs of Aggravated Inflation on Horizon Despite Geopolitical Worries 

The world is rapidly becoming a more perilous place, as we all witnessed the horrific attacks by Hamas on innocent Israeli civilians. Israel’s response is still unfolding. There is a growing concern about a full-scale, multi-front war, involving Israel and its neighboring countries. There are significant global implications with any decision. Meanwhile, tensions continue to escalate between Ukraine and Russia, with an assertive China adding to the complexity. The United States finds itself stretched thin as it works to maintain global stability. 

One might expect bond yields to experience a sharp decline in response to increased uncertainty, often seen as a “flight to safety” trade. However, massive government bond issuance, coupled with higher-than-expected readings in both the Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index, have prevented yields from dropping dramatically. Inflation remains a pressing issue in our country, with consumer inflation surging by approximately 20% over the past two and a half years. This places a significant burden on most families, as wages fail to rise proportionally. 

The challenge of home affordability continues to plague the housing market, leading to a sense of stagnation. Nevertheless, existing home inventory is gradually increasing, and as homes linger on the market, sellers may be inclined to lower prices to attract buyers. We are hearing anecdotally from our network of realtors and appraisers that the Southern California market is displaying signs of softening. However, sellers remain hesitant to reduce prices. With the Federal Reserve maintaining a stance of “higher for longer” on interest rates, the likelihood of rates decreasing remains low. Consequently, supply and demand will need to find equilibrium, necessitating lower real estate prices at some point. 

The Fed’s Lag Effects & Real Estate 

The commercial CMBS (Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities) debt market carries a high likelihood of experiencing a wave of defaults. Many real estate investors will soon face challenging decisions as their debt matures in 2024 and beyond. Banks are tightening their lending standards. With cap rates on the rise, commercial real estate will continue to face pressure in the coming years as prices adjust to higher cap rates, resulting in lower valuations. Additionally, numerous construction projects are being put on hold with debt financing costs reaching 10% or higher. The lag effects of the Fed’s interest rate policies are beginning to ripple through the financial system. 

For those of us who have built our careers in real estate, whether on the acquisition or lending side… This period is widely regarded as one of the most challenging in real estate history. Why? We are confronted with a multitude of challenges simultaneously. Residential real estate prices remain high, with little sign of significant softening. The interest rate environment is at a 20-year high, making homeownership unattainable for many due to a lack of affordability. Moreover, many banks are either unable or unwilling to lend, as they grapple with balance sheet issues stemming from the prolonged period of low interest rates. After the 2008 financial crisis, banks were eager to lend as rates dropped, and government programs stabilized the markets, providing tailwinds for real estate brokers and lenders. Now, the Fed is pushing for home price depreciation as a means to combat inflation. 

Given the formidable landscape, only the most dedicated individuals will thrive in this market as transaction volume remains sluggish. At Insignia Mortgage, we are seizing this opportunity to connect with past borrowers, realtors, and referral partners, offering updates on niche lending programs that can assist potential buyers or those seeking to refinance. We are proactively reaching out to local lenders to establish new relationships, as some banks are in need of lending capacity and are offering unique products with minimal rate markups compared to traditional loan products. Additionally, we are conducting informative sessions at offices, explaining more specialized products like jumbo 2-1 buydowns, cross-collateralized loans, and bridge loans that address immediate needs while we work on securing more permanent financing. Ultimately, our experienced team, with an average of over 20 years in the industry, is committed to providing value to our real estate partners through hard work and expertise. 

Market Commentary 10/6/2023

Strong Jobs Market Boosts Equities 

A better-than-expected jobs report had a strong negative impact on both the bond and equity markets Friday morning, with the initial market reaction suggesting that good news might be bad news for bonds. However, a closer examination of the jobs report data reveals that wage increases are flattening, and hours worked are declining. This likely explains the subsequent market reversal, with mortgage bond yields still up but not as much, and the equity markets rallying. On the downside, the probability of yet another rate hike increased after the latest jobs report, with the odds of a hike rising from last week’s 18% to around 30%. 

It’s almost as if the WSJ has been reading our blog (joking), as Friday’s paper featured an article explaining the importance of shopping for a mortgage in today’s lending market. Banks are now offering varying interest rates, with differences of up to 1%. This aligns perfectly with what we do at Insignia Mortgage. Our experienced and dedicated broker team actively seeks the best execution for each deal by matching a borrower’s financials with the best-priced lender. Given our expertise in reviewing complex financials, we’ve noticed significant variations between lenders. Our hard work continues to pay off as clients trust us to secure their unique mortgages. 

Look out for a recap of our recent loan successes for more insight into the complexity of our client financial scenarios. While the market may be volatile, our commitment to creating individualized lending solutions remains steadfast.  

Scotsman Guide Profiles Romy Nourafchan As ‘Top Jumbo Originator Nationwide’

Romy Nourfchan was recently profiled in Scotsman Guide as a “Featured Top Originator” in the nation, for his debut as No. 1 on Scotsman Guide’s newest ranking ‘Top Jumbo Originators.’ The article, written by Hannah Darden, details Nourfchan’s journey to success in this niche lending space and Insignia Mortgage.

“My career started in 1990. For seven or eight years, I worked as a broker, then went into banking and worked for big banks and a few smaller banks,” Nourafchan said. “Over this time, my strategy has always been to go after jumbo loans … and continually build my business on higher dollar amounts.”

– Romy Nourfchan, Scotsman Guide “Featured Top Originator” October 2023

Watch the interview below, or read the full article here.

Romy Nourafchan of Insignia Mortgage shares his experience as a luxury broker with high-end clients in this installment of the new Featured Top Originator video series. Nourafchan, who placed first in Scotsman Guide’s 2023 Top Jumbo Originators rankings and 20th in the Top Mortgage Brokers rankings, was chosen as October’s Featured Top Originator. To learn more about Nourafchan, read the full FTO article here: To see the Top Jumbo Originators or Top Mortgage Brokers rankings, visit the Top Originators homepage at…

Market Commentary 9/29/2023

Better-Than-Expected Inflation Readings Fail to Lower Rates 

Although the market welcomed a better-than-expected core PCE report (the Fed’s favored inflation gauge), it had a less-than-desired impact on bond yields. Several factors may have contributed to this subdued response from the bond market. The looming government shutdown, with a staggering $33 trillion in debt, has cast a shadow on any other momentum. In addition, a significant strike by the United Auto Workers is likely to encourage other large unions to demand higher wages. Matters become further complicated by the tight oil supply causing oil prices to push back toward $100 per barrel. 

Speaking of oil, it is worth noting that the PCE metric excludes the more volatile components of inflation, namely food and energy. With energy prices surging in recent months and the cost of living growing larger, this report offers little relief to most Americans. 

Homebuyers Barred from Market Due to Mortgage Rates 

Higher mortgage rates are now dampening demand, making the market inaccessible to many potential homebuyers. Homebuilders try to clear inventory by reducing prices and offering substantial incentives, such as 2-1 buydowns on mortgage applicants. While the tight supply in the resale housing market prevents prices from dropping significantly, an economic downturn could leave people struggling to afford mortgage payments as other costs rise. In California, the soaring costs of health and homeowner’s insurance are becoming increasingly burdensome for small businesses and homeowners. Credit card costs have also shot up, comfortably exceeding 20%. 

Lower-rated credit card borrowers are beginning to make delinquent payments, signaling that the Fed’s substantial rate hikes are starting to take a toll. However, despite some receding, inflation is not rapidly decreasing. Americans are grappling with both higher capital costs and increased expenses. While the economy continues to show resilience, many are beginning to feel the severity of a slowing economy and a higher inflationary environment. 

Prominent figures like Jamie Dimon and Bill Ackman, both Wall Street legends, would not be surprised by higher rates. They foresee rates settling above 5.00% at the long end of the curve. We share this view and are closely monitoring how the markets adapt to a world of elevated interest rates. 

Circling back to mortgages, this market remains difficult and fragmented.  The days of speaking to one or two banks on a deal are gone. Insignia Mortgage provides value by surveying many different lenders on each deal and locating incredibly competitive terms for prospective borrowers, especially those borrowers with more complex or nuanced financial profiles. 

Market Commentary 9/22/2023

A Quick Comment on the Fed, Bonds & Housing


The bond market, which had initially resisted the idea of a prolonged period of higher interest rates, has embraced the idea that inflation is likely to remain elevated. We have consistently stressed that transitioning from a 3% to a 2% inflation rate would be fraught with challenges. As inflation accelerates, bond investors are increasingly seeking higher yields to compensate for this risk. Additional factors exacerbating the inflation issue include surging oil prices, large unions demanding substantial wage increases, a staggering $33 trillion deficit, and a Federal Reserve engaged in selling (QT) rather than buying bonds, among other pressing concerns. Unfortunately, none of these factors bode well for lower interest rates. The Fed’s recent communication, particularly the dot plot, has pushed expectations of rate cuts further into the future. This is because the economy continues to perform better than anticipated, and some indication that inflation may have plateaued at a level that remains unacceptably high for most Americans. While the likelihood of a soft landing is slim, we recognize that anything is possible in these complex economic times.


Shifting our focus to bonds, it’s intriguing to consider why many on Wall Street seemed caught off guard by the prevailing interest rate environment. Although we acknowledge our own past misjudgments, we have consistently argued that there is a high risk of shifting toward a higher interest rate environment. Assuming inflation stabilizes at 3%, and incorporating a term premium of 1.5% to 2%, longer-dated bonds should hover around 4.50% to 5%. This appears to be the new normal, and individuals and businesses alike should base their investment and lending decisions on these assumptions. The far-reaching impacts of rising interest rates are just beginning to permeate the system. We can attest to this firsthand as prospective borrowers grapple with refinancing challenges and encounter difficulties in qualifying for new purchases.


While housing affordability remains a significant issue for many, home prices continue to remain high and are even rising in certain markets. In hindsight, the reason for this becomes apparent: nearly 15 years of ultra-low interest rate policies have left the majority of U.S. homeowners locked into mortgages below 5%. This has discouraged potential sellers from listing their homes, while higher rates have deterred would-be buyers. In an unusual twist, the forces of supply and demand are to some extent canceling each other out. This dynamic has helped sustain property values in the non-ultra-luxury segment of the market. 

Still, there are signs of potential trouble ahead as home builders are starting to offer major incentives such as 2-1 buy downs on mortgages as well as lower prices, in an effort to stimulate volume. Additionally, pressure increases on the commercial and multi-family segments of the market as loans begin to adjust. In some cases, current values considerably decreased compared to just a few years ago.

Market Commentary 9/15/2023

Additional Fed Hike by Year End Suggested by High CPI Readings  

Bonds continue their upward trajectory in response to the latest CPI and PPI inflation readings. As we’ve often pointed out, the path from 3% to 2% inflation presents many challenges. Both the Federal Reserve and the average American consumer face escalating home prices, rising food costs, and surging energy expenses. 

While financial experts may attempt to interpret inflation reports in various ways, we believe it’s crucial to focus on food and energy costs. These commodities, although volatile, are indispensable elements of our modern world. Therefore, the persistent high costs of food and energy, coupled with ongoing wage inflation, are likely to keep the Federal Reserve from implementing any interest rate hikes in the upcoming week. Our expectation is that they will project an additional rate hike in November. Furthermore, it’s prudent not to anticipate any rate cuts from the Fed until at least the end of next year. 

In the broader real estate market, office spaces continue to face problems. Nevertheless, there is a growing trend of companies reintroducing return-to-office requirements for employees. This shift could establish a floor for declining office values. In certain cities, office property values have plummeted by over 50%. What was once deemed a prime asset class is undergoing a transformation. Newer, amenity-rich office spaces may thrive, while older, cash-cow office buildings owned by generational landlords might ultimately be more valuable as land than as operational structures. However, there is emerging concern about the multifamily real estate sector, as a substantial amount of multifamily CMBS debt is set to mature in 2024 and 2025. In contrast, the single-family homes market remains largely unaffected by rising interest rates. This is primarily because many potential sellers are holding onto mortgages with rates below 5%. Such favorable rates are discouraging homeowners from listing their properties for sale.  

Our attention is now focused on the 10-year Treasury yield, which recently closed just below 4.35%. Should it breach this level, yields will likely surge past 4.5%. There is currently little evidence to suggest that interest rates will move lower. It’s worth noting that interest rate cycles tend to be lengthy, a point emphasized by the renowned bond investor Bill Gross, often referred to as the “Bond King.” Gross once underscored the significance of the 30-year bull market in bonds, where declining rates are considered bullish in bond markets, as one of the defining features of his career.