A bull 12 months is forward for MSR buying and selling

The buying and selling quantity of mortgage-rights servicing (MSRs) to this point this 12 months is on tempo to satisfy or exceed final 12 months’s sturdy mark, when MSRs on some $1 trillion value of house loans exchanged arms — then fueled by the spike in rates of interest, business gamers say.

As of late April 2023, mortgage rates of interest, although nonetheless unstable, have been on a downward trajectory because the begin of the 12 months. That needs to be a drag on MSR pricing and buying and selling, given MSR values have a tendency to say no as rates of interest drop as a result of decrease charges immediate extra refinancing — reducing the long-term payout for the asset.

That pattern, nevertheless, isn’t materializing available in the market to this point, in keeping with a number of MSR market consultants interviewed by HousingWire. The primary cause for that’s that the majority of the MSRs now being traded are linked to solidly underwritten mortgages originated in 2020 and 2021, when rates of interest had been within the 3% vary — therefore they signify high quality MSRs that are actually at very low danger of prepayment.

“Given the amount that we’ve seen available in the market to this point this 12 months, I anticipate one other actually sturdy 12 months in [MSR] brokerage exercise,” mentioned Mike Carnes, managing director of the MSR valuation group on the Mortgage Business Advisory Corp. (MIAC). “We hit almost $1 trillion {dollars} final 12 months, and I’d say you may probably have one other $1 trillion 12 months this 12 months.”

Carnes mentioned MIAC presently has within the pipeline MSR choices value a complete of some $14 billion — based mostly on the overall mortgage stability serviced — with offers representing about $4 billion of that whole slated to shut this month. That determine doesn’t embody a pending deal within the works that he mentioned would “considerably transfer that quantity.” 

Tom Piercy, managing director of Incenter Mortgage Advisors, mentioned there’s “an incredible quantity of capital centered on MSR property” now, with a very good mixture of consumers and sellers — together with banks and impartial mortgage banks (IMBs) as sellers and consumers, plus there’s a wholesome mixture of institutional gamers (together with insurance coverage corporations, private-equity companies and actual property funding trusts, or REITs) bolstering the ranks of consumers this 12 months.

Piercy mentioned Incenter has some $130 billion in MSR choices which have gone to bid to this point this 12 months or are within the pipeline, together with public bulk-auction choices and personal straight negotiated offers.

“Whenever you have a look at our numbers proper now relative to the place we had been a 12 months in the past, we’re definitely on observe to duplicate it [last year’s healthy performance], and we could even exceed it given among the offers within the pipeline,” Piercy mentioned. “We’ve been very happy with the style by which this market has responded because the anticipation earlier within the 12 months of this being a purchaser’s market.

“There’s a large quantity of capital dedicated to this area, which is creating, I believe, aggressive components which have maintained an elevated pricing market.”

Among the many lively consumers ready to take part available in the market, in keeping with business observers who spoke with HousingWire, are the next:

• Annaly Capital Administration [a REIT that controls Onslow Bay Financial].
• Bayview Cos. [which controls Lakeview Loan Servicing]. 
• Rice Park Capital Administration.
• Prophet Capital Asset Administration.
• Voya Funding Administration.
• Mr. Cooper (previously Nationstar Mortgage).
• Rithm Capital (also referred to as NewRez);
• Two Harbors Funding Corp.

After all, there are lots of different gamers lively within the MSR market, together with banks and IMBs. The truth is, in keeping with mortgage-data analytics agency Recursion, main the cost in bulking up their all-agency MSR portfolios (involving Fannie MaeFreddie Mac and Ginnie Mae loans) between the top of 2021 and April of this 12 months are the next lenders:

  • Pennymac
  • JP Morgan
  • Lakeview Mortgage Servicing 
  • Freedom Mortgage
  • Mr. Cooper
  • Rithm Capital 
  • US Financial institution

The expansion within the lenders’ MSR portfolios contains each servicing retained on new mortgage originations in addition to MSR acquisitions. The lenders rank among the many high 10 by way of market share within the all-agency MSR market, in keeping with Recursion’s knowledge.

Lenders amongst that high 10 that recorded a decline of their MSR portfolios over that very same interval embody Wells FargoRocket Mortgage and United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), in keeping with Recursion’s knowledge.

Nick Smith, founder and CEO of Rice Park Capital Administration, mentioned his agency is an lively purchaser within the MSR market this 12 months, including that there’s a enormous provide of enticing MSR property within the pipeline that he expects might be traded over the subsequent 12 to 18 months. 

That features, he mentioned, some $1.5 trillion (UPB) in legacy MSRs from loans made in 2020 and 2021 primarily by IMBs. Some lively financial institution sellers are available in the market as properly — resembling Wells Fargo, which introduced just lately that it had finalized a deal to promote some $50 billion in MSRs.

“So, you’ve obtained a $1.5 trillion [in legacy MSRs expected to trade] which is just like the rat going by the snake, plus you’ve obtained the brand new manufacturing quantity [at current market rates] that’s going to commerce, let’s name that $1 trillion to $1.25 trillion,” Smith mentioned. “… It’s a very low-risk, high-quality asset that I’d say, for traders, is form of a dream asset to purchase.”

Not everyone seems to be bullish on the MSR market, nevertheless. Ben Hunsaker, a portfolio supervisor at Seaside Level Capital Administration, an alternative-credit funding agency, mentioned MSR costs are too excessive now “relative to different asset courses.”

“Prepayments [via refinancing] can get loads quicker,” he mentioned. “They’ll’t get loads slower.

“Bills [due to rates and inflation] can get loads larger, and so it seems like MSRs are priced fairly tightly within the grand scheme of investable property in 2023.”

Azad Rafat, senior director of MSR providers at Mortgage Capital Buying and selling (MCT), mentioned his agency, together with advisory agency Prestwick Mortgage Group, has marketed 4 MSR choices to this point this 12 months valued in whole, based mostly on UPB, at $838 million. Rafat mentioned MCT usually works with smaller MSR choices underneath $1 billion. 

At the very least one other two MSR choices thus far, with a mixed worth of about $1.4 billion, had been marketed solely by Prestwick, bid paperwork present.

“We’re seeing very a lot curiosity from personal fairness funds, or corporations backed by personal fairness funds,” Rafat mentioned. “That’s the everyday gamers [MSR buyers] we’re seeing proper now.”

Rafat added a be aware of warning concerning the future course of the MSR market, nevertheless, or at the least its unknowns. The largest of these unknowns is whether or not a recession is within the offing. If that’s the case, that might influence debtors’ refinancing decisions in addition to the worth of MSRs — assuming the downturn is extreme sufficient to immediate a rise in loan-prepayment speeds even amongst legacy debtors.

“Shopper debt has risen from $11 trillion to $12 trillion to just a little over $16 trillion as of the top of 2022,” he mentioned. “The query is how a lot will that [increasing debt] put stress on them to refinance, despite the fact that it’s troublesome for them to surrender these 3% loans? 

“Proper now, the entire business is underneath the belief that these prepayment speeds are going to stay low for a very long time. The query is what is going to occur when you’ve gotten a recession [and rates likely decline further].”

Smith concedes that each present MSRs in addition to the massive pool of MSRs tied to low-rate legacy loans from 2020 and 2021 might be impacted by declining rates of interest. However he provides that as a result of the legacy-loan MSRs are actually to this point out of the cash by way of refinancing, rates of interest must decline drastically from the place they’re now to tug down MSR pricing considerably.

“If charges drop 100 foundation factors from right here [to the low 5% range, as the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts will happen by year’s end], the legacy MSRs go down by 4% [in price] whereas new [prevailing-rate] origination [MSRs] go down by 25%,” he mentioned. “It’s only a a lot totally different order of magnitude.

“So that they [legacy-loan MSRs] have an enormous buffer, and despite the fact that charges dropping … may have a adverse worth influence, it’s dampened. There may be a lot much less worth volatility for fee drops for these MSRs, in contrast with new-issue stuff.”

Carnes factors out that of the estimated $10 trillion-plus in mortgage originations from 2020 and 2022 “over $8 trillion of that was originated in 2020 and 2021.”

“There’s nonetheless a major quantity of saturation of that legacy product,” he added. “Even when rates of interest go down by round 150 foundation factors from the place we’re at present [to around 4.5% from the low 6% range now], these Covid-era originations [some at rates below 3%] are nonetheless out of the cash and never at important danger for refinancing.

“… Proper now, there’s a very good variety of consumers available in the market, together with some new consumers, and so long as the demand for MSRs stays sturdy, I believe so too will the worth of MSRs. It’s a really enticing asset, notably the legacy MSRs.”