Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Releases of Deeds of Trust in Colorado Metros Stall in Spite of Record-Low Mortgage Rates

Releases of deeds of trust during the first half of 2014 were down significantly in Colorado metros compared to 2013 during the same period, and were flat from the first quarter of 2014 to the second quarter.

During the first half of 2013, there were 179,747 releases of deeds of trust in Colorado metros, and during the same period of 2014, there were 92,955 releases, for a year-over-year decline of 49.4 percent.

A release of a deed of trust is an event that occurs when a deed of trust (often referred to as  a mortgage) is paid off, either through refinance, sale, or when all payments have been completed on a home loan. It is a "positive" economic indicator in sense that areas with improving economies tend to generally also report increases in releases of deeds of trust.

For the second quarter alone, across Colorado's metropolitan counties, 46,696 deeds of trust were released. That's a 0.9 percent increase from the first quarter of 2014 when there were 46,259 releases.

Compared year over year for the second quarter alone,  releases were down 47.1 percent from the second quarter of 2013 when there were 88,217 releases. 2014's 2nd-Q releases were down 22.4 percent from the same period of 2012.

The first graph shows the quarterly total for releases. We can see that totals were near the lowest level recorded since 2008, and were quite low for all of the first half of 2014.

The second graph shows release totals compared against the same quarters for each year. Note that the second quarter of 2014 is the lowest quarterly total for releases recorded since 2008. The same was true of the first-quarter total. 

The low levels of release activity persisted in spite of the fact that mortgage rates continue at very low levels. Release activity is generally tied closely to movements in the mortgage rate, and refinances especially tend to increase as mortgage rates move down. However, in spite of low rates, releases have remained low, suggesting that the market for refinances has been largely exhausted. 

The third graph shows the relationship between the mortgage rate and release totals. While mortgage rates have increased from the extremely low levels seen during 2012 and 2013, rates still remain at historic lows under 4.5 percent. This, however, has failed to produce the sort of new loan activity seen during periods with rates that were 50 basis points higher, back in 2009. 

So far this year, compared to previous years, release activity is on schedule to finish down more than 50 percent compared to last year. The next graph shows total annual release activity, plus the first half of 2014:

Regional Comparisons 

Looking at release activity on a county by county basis, we find some significant changes in trends. The first chart shows quarter over quarter changes in each county surveyed. Douglas County, which, as a high-income county, typically tends to outpace other counties, but in this case saw a large drop off over the period.

The second chart shows year-over-year changes. In this case we find more uniformity in that all counties reported declines, year over year for the second quarter. Weld County, not surprisingly reported the smallest decline, owing at least partially to large amounts of oil-driven economic activity in the region.

The third chart shows year-over-year changes for the first half of each year. In this case,  all counties reported declines year over year with the smallest declines coming from Weld and Denver counties.

And finally, we can compare the counties more accurately by adjusting release activity for the total number of housing units in each county. In this case, we see the largest amount of release activity was in Weld, Larimer, and Jefferson counties, and the lowest amount was in Douglas County. 

It is unclear why Douglas County would show so little activity at this time, and it does suggest that some additional analysis is needed for the county in home sales and building permits and median home prices. 

Overall, these numbers point to a soft market for refinances, and to small number of new home sales, in spite of continued growth in median home prices in all areas. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Economist: Colorado foreclosure filings about as low as they can go

From the June 4 issue of The Denver Post: 

Colorado foreclosure filings may be as low as they can go without a major economic boom, Department of Housing economist Ryan McMaken said Wednesday. 
Foreclosure filings fell 24.7 percent to 3,441 in the first quarter, compared with 4,571 in the first quarter of 2013. The number of foreclosure sales dropped to 1,718, down 41.5 percent from 2,935 in the year-ago period. 
"We would need a really excellent economy to get the numbers to go a whole lot lower than where they are now," McMaken said. "The rates will continue to be low in 2014, as long as the economy doesn't worsen significantly." 
Although foreclosure activity was down year over year, filings and sales increased 15.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with the fourth quarter of 2013, with filings jumping 15.4 percent to 3,441 from 2,981, and sales climbing 4.1 percent to 1,718 from 1,650. 
McMaken said he doesn't expect filings to continue to climb and blamed the bump on rising interest rates and slowing increases in home values. 
Purchases and refinance deals pushed "release of deeds of trust activity through the roof in 2013," he said. "We also saw big home price increases in 2013. Then we saw that all start to moderate toward the end of the year. We saw interest rates start to head back up, and then we started to see — related no doubt — home prices start to moderate as well." 
In 2013, 15,333 foreclosures were filed and 9,318 properties were sold, the lowest totals since 2004.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Commie Cowboys: First Footnote Sighting

My thanks to film scholars Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper for mentioning my book Commie Cowboys in the introduction of their new academic book International Westerns: Re-Locating the Frontier:
Numerous scholars have explored the genre and its impact from various vantage points: Will Wright has examined the structure of the genre’s narratives, while Jon Tuska has offered more thematic critical approaches. Peter Stanfield has analyzed the role of “cowboy crooners” as exemplars of heartland values, while Ryan McMaken has focused on “commie cowboys” as cultural critique. While each of these is instructive when considering the genre in relation to American culture, the discussion becomes more complex when the genre is loosened from its cultural moorings. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Colorado foreclosure filings drop to 2004 levels

From "Colorado foreclosure filings drop to 2004 levels " The Denver Post, November 14, 2013

Both foreclosure filings and foreclosure auction sales during the third quarter of 2013 were at the lowest quarterly totals collected in any quarter since the Division of Housing began tracking quarterly totals in 2007. 
"This foreclosure cycle has largely wound down," said Ryan McMaken, economist for the Colorado Division of Housing. 
"We're looking at a nine- or 10- year low in foreclosure totals for the year," McMaken added in a statement. 
All of the state's 12 metropolitan counties reported year-over-year declines in both foreclosure filings totals and foreclosure auction sales totals for the first nine months of 2013, when compared to the same period of last year.

Colorado foreclosures dive in October

From "Colorado foreclosures dive in October", The Denver Post, October 25, 2013.
Foreclosure filings are the initial filings that begin the foreclosure process, and foreclosure auction sales totals are the total number of foreclosures that have been sold at auction at the end of the foreclosure process. 
"October's drop was the largest year-over-year decline we've seen in the seven-year history of the report," said Ryan McMaken, an economist for the Colorado Division of Housing. 
"Foreclosure activity is quickly moving toward what we consider to be a 'normal' rate," McMaken said.

Front Range apartment vacancies continue to fall as rents rise

Ryan McMaken, an economist for the agency, said especially low vacancy rates were found in the northern Front Range markets. 
In the third quarter, the vacancy rate was 2.8 percent in the Fort Collins-Loveland area and 1.3 percent in Greeley, which was the lowest rate reported in Greeley since 1995. 
"The Fort Collins market has been tight for several years at this point, and continues to be so, but in just 18 months, Greeley has gone from being a market with only moderate demand to a very tight one," said McMaken.

Tight market puts squeeze on budgets for Larimer County renters

From "Tight market puts squeeze on budgets for Larimer County renters" in the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, Dec 19, 2013. 

In a discussion about income and rental stats for rental housing in Larimer County: 

That makes Larimer County the third-most rent-burdened county in the state, behind Boulder and Pueblo, according to the ACS. Boulder is first due to its limited supply of housing and lack of land on which to build more. Pueblo is burdened for an entirely different reason: Housing is plentiful, but incomes are much lower. Fort Collins finds itself among the top three, McMaken said, because a lot of people stay here.  
“Fort Collins is also blessed with good job availability, but there’s a mismatch in rent versus income.” It’s no surprise the situation is more dire for lower-wage earners. The less a household makes, the more rent-burdened it is likely to be. According to the ACS, 15,667 Larimer County households making less than $35,000 pay more than 35 percent of their income toward rent. The number drops precipitously as income rises. 
That’s to be expected.“People who make a lot of money leave the universe of rental housing and that skews the numbers,” McMaken said.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Recent publication: a brief overview of conservatism since 1789

Thanks to the kind invitation of associate editor Michael Cummings, I contributed to the Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought and authored the section on conservatism found on page 179. The full entry is below.

In the entry I cover the topic of global conservatism and not just the quasi-liberal, quasi-conservative ideology known simply as conservatism in the United States since the 1950s.

I cover the contributions of Burke, Joseph de Maistre, Klemens von Metternich and others, but I do also consider the tension between conservatism and laissez-faire liberalism in the United States and other Western countries.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Speaking on home sales inventory

From the June 5 Denver Post:

Ryan McMaken, an economist for the Colorado Division of Housing, said that after a few quarters of 10 percent growth in home prices year-over-year, people who were on the verge of being underwater believe they see prices that justify selling their homes.

"If more homes are coming on line, that would be an improvement from the buyer's perspective because recently it has been so difficult to find a property you want," he said.

But McMaken said much of the homebuying is being fueled by highly paid people moving to the metro area from other states who bring wealth with them. In metro Denver, wages are not keeping up with home prices.

NB: ..."a property you want..." should read "...a property on which you can successfully bid..."

Friday, May 17, 2013

May 2013 clippings

Some other recent stuff :

Apartment vacancies rise in Fort Collins-Loveland
Northern Colorado Business Report-May 9, 2013
And for the first time in the past year, the area surpassed Denver metro in average rent prices, according to Ryan McMaken, an economist with ...

Denver rents at all-time high
kdvr.com-Apr 29, 2013
Ryan McMaken is an economist for the Colorado Division of ... McMaken says the metro area has seen an average rent increase of 4.2 percent ...

Colorado Springs apartments in high demand
Colorado Springs Gazette-May 2, 2013
Because of the demand, expect rents to continue to rise or hover near their record high, McMakensaid. A decline in rents will happen only if the ...

Report: Springs apartment market strong
Colorado Springs Business Journal-May 6, 2013
But it's not so low that renters are crunched, said Ryan McMaken, an economist with the division of housing. “Healthy” should not be confused ...

Report: Springs apartment market healthy
Colorado Springs Business Journal-May 1, 2013
A vacancy rate of 5.6 percent allows apartment complex owners to raise rents and keep up with expenses, McMaken said. But it's not enough to ...

Clippings, May 17, 2013

Some recent clippings:

Weld, state foreclosures continue to fall
My Windsor Now - ‎10 hours ago‎
McMaken reported in his release that all of the state's 12 metropolitan counties reported declines in sales and auctions. Only 10 of the state's 64 counties reported increases, but they were small counties with fewer than 40 filings in each county. Foreclosure ...

Foreclosures drop dramatically in Larimer County and statewide
ReporterHerald.com - ‎17 hours ago‎
The first-quarter numbers of filings - 4,571 - and sales - 2,935 - were the lowest since the state started keeping track in 2007, according to a release from Division of Housing economist Ryan McMaken. "The trend downward is accelerating, helped along by low ...

Colorado Springs' foreclosure picture brightens - Colorado Springs Gazette
Colorado Springs Gazette - ‎22 hours ago‎
Credit a turnaround in the housing market for the improving foreclosure situation, said Ryan McMaken, a Housing Division economist. Low mortgage rates are driving a demand for homebuying, which is pushing up prices. That increase in values means it's ...

Colorado foreclosure filings plummet 41 percent in the first quarter
Denver Post - ‎11 hours ago‎
"The trend downward is accelerating, helped along by low mortgage rates, rising home prices and a stabilizing situation," said Ryan McMaken, economist for the Colorado Division of Housing. All of the state's 12 metropolitan counties reported year-over-year ...

Steep drop in Colorado foreclosures, filings in Q1
Denver Business Journal - ‎May 16, 2013‎
Ryan McMaken, economist for the housing division, said the downward trend "is accelerating, helped along by low mortgage rates, rising home prices, and a stabilizing employment situation." The first quarter of 2013 was the fourth consecutive quarter to see ...

Foreclosures plummet in Larimer and Weld
Northern Colorado Business Report - ‎19 hours ago‎
New data from the Colorado Division of Housing shows dramatic drops in both foreclosure filings and foreclosure sales for first-quarter 2013. In Larimer County, foreclosure filings fell by 40.5 percent from 306 to 182 from first-quarter 2012 to the same period in ...

Colorado Sees 41 Percent Drop In Foreclosure Filings
KUNC - ‎May 16, 2013‎
The decline in foreclosures has been a statewide phenomenon so far this year, said Ryan McMaken with the Colorado Division of Housing in a statement. Foreclosure auction sales, or completed foreclosures, experienced a drop of nearly 30.5 percent this ...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Book Review: 'The Independent Review'

My book review on Brian Doherty's book on the Ron Paul movement was recently published in the scholarly journal The Independent Review.