Change Is in the Wind

By Hewitt, Janet Reilley | Mortgage Banking, April 2004 | Go to article overview

Change Is in the Wind


Hewitt, Janet Reilley, Mortgage Banking


WE HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR THE MARKET TO TURN. FOR THE LENDING climate to chill. But a delightful extension of unseasonable pleasant rates has defied expectation. The Fed has exhausted its vocabulary of wait-and-see adjectives signifying no change in policy. And still we are watching for signs that the endless summer of accommodative monetary policy is over.

And guess what? It's not over yet. Refis have even been staging a comeback. Economists have been revising forecasts almost monthly, and home-buying just keeps coming on strong.

Yet in some markets, there has been a change. Lenders have picked up on it--especially lenders that offer custom-crafted, adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) products. High-cost markets such as California, which saw its median existing home price climb by 20.7 percent from January 2003 to January 2004, have seen the shift. And lenders are ready. Experienced product innovators such as Washington Mutual, Seattle, have been preparing for the shift in borrower financing needs and are helping their real estate referral sources not to panic in the face of affordability problems. ARMs can still get borrowers into a house--even, it seems, in California.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Our cover story by Robert O'Connor reports on how three lenders are helping usher in "The New ARM Market. …

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