Fed Talks Of Tapering Drives Rates Lower – Go Figure
The Fed’s shift in policy acknowledged inflation is running hotter than expected. They also confirmed that the tapering of the Covid emergency policy responses was met with big inter-week swings in interest rates and increased volatility in equities. We will see if this change in Fed policy will create the so-called “Taper Tantrum” that we witnessed the last time the Fed tried to unwind its ultra-easy fiscal policies. However, with the 10-year Treasury around 1.500%, interest rates are still very attractive. This ultra-low interest rate environment has encouraged prospective buyers of all assets (stocks, real estate, crypto) to take on more risk either by buying real estate at elevated prices, purchasing stocks over bonds, or hedging dollar depreciation by buying alternative assets.
A lack of housing supply continues to nudge prices higher. However, affordability is becoming a big problem. If interest rates move up, there will need to be an adjustment in the supply and demand equation, and home prices will be under pressure. We are starting to see appraisals unable to come in at value on certain purchases. With the pandemic waning, perhaps buyers will not be so eager to stay in escrow, especially if the home does not appraise.
Non-QM or alternative lending is really picking up steam. Lenders are pushing products out to the non-traditional borrower in a manner I have not seen in many years. Thankfully, lenders are keeping the loan to values reasonable so borrowers still have real skin in the game. Loans to foreign nationals, no income verification loans, and asset-based loans are all back with a vengeance. Insignia is placing loans with many lenders and are closing transaction up to $15 MM with very low-interest rates and interest only. The search for yield is driving the products and it will be interesting to see what happens if interest rates rise.