In at least one statistical category, Tennessee's housing markets took a nice step in the right direction in the second quarter, according to research firm CoreLogic. Three months ago, 23 percent of Tennessee properties with a mortgage were in negative-equity territory. As of June 30, that number had fallen to 16.2 percent, a drop significant enough to merit a mention in CoreLogic's national release.
"In the first quarter of 2012, rebounding home prices, a healthier balance of real estate supply and demand, and a slowing share of distressed sales activity helped to reduce the negative equity share," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "This is a meaningful improvement that is driven by quickly improving outlooks in some of the hardest hit markets. While the overall stagnating economic recovery will likely slow housing market recovery in the second half of this year, reducing the number of underwater households is an important step toward reducing future mortgage default risk."
To see a detailed map showing negative equity by county, click here.
A good number of people in the banking and housing markets have been bracing themselves for a renewed rise in foreclosures driven by the end of a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac moratorium and lenders' growing confidence that they can flush their remaining distressed holdings from their books as the housing market gathers strength. But April statistics from CoreLogic don't show that trend taking hold locally just yet: Both 90-day delinquencies and foreclosures were down a bit from last year.
Analyst Charles Haff of Craig-Hallum Capital Group has joined the Acadia Healthcare 'buy' club, launching coverage of the Franklin-based behavioral health provider's shares with a $21 price target. By Reuters' count, that brings to seven the number of analysts tracking Acadia, all of them with 'buy' or 'outperform' ratings. Acadia shares (Ticker: ACHC) closed Tuesday trading at $17.06 and have climbed more than 70 percent year to date.
Looking ahead to second-quarter earnings season, Stephen Scinicariello at UBS says a number of regional banks — whose shares have been treading water of late — are becoming attractive investments. The concerns about a global slowdown shouldn't impact those companies too much and their "favorable relative positioning in the new regulatory paradigm" means investors should take a look. Among the biggest potential beneficiaries, Scinicariello says, is Fifth Third Bancorp, which has been making hay in the mortgage market.
First Horizon National has told investors it is taking a charge of $272 million to cover extra costs it expects to incur by having to buy back mortgages from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. As of March 31, the bank holding company's reserve against putbacks was just $161 million. The news prompted analyst Paul Miller at FBR Capital to lower his price target to $6.50 from $8. Miller has an 'underperform' rating on First Horizon (Ticker: FHN), which closed Monday at $7.91.
During a conference call late on Monday, First Horizon National CFO William Losch expressed confidence that the company wouldn't see further unexpected rises in mortgage loan putback demands from Fannie Mae, as the GSE had given "a view of how they've historically selected loans for repurchase requests, how they anticipate to select loans, both liquidated and delinquent, in the future, and gave us a lot of insight into how they come up with that."
SEE ALSO: The company's 8-K filing detailing the charge
Churchill Mortgage is staying on its growth path with staff additions in Tennessee and Texas, including at its year-old Houston outpost. Locally, the company's Brentwood home office and Mt. Juliet branch have gotten many of the dozen new hires, which have come from Regions Bank, Crescent Federal Credit Union and United Capital Lending, among others.
SEE ALSO: Some of the other growth moves Churchill has made of late
There is little doubt that home sales are on the mend in Middle Tennessee. But the prices of many area houses have a long way to go before they can be called healthy. As evidence, Zillow has updated its negative-equity numbers, which paint an ugly picture for parts of the Nashville region.
In a good stretch of the Interstate 24 corridor, more than half of homeowners own more on their mortgage than their house is worth. Also worth noting is that many of the downtown ZIP codes home to newish condominium developments sport negative equity ratios of 40 percent and higher.
No disrespect to the fine folks at Wells Fargo, but when one player owns more than a third of a market as large and important as mortgage lending — especially just after a major financial crisis — shouldn't more warning flags be raised? "A little pause" doesn't seem to be enough.
Booming home loan lender Churchill Mortgage has promoted seven-year veteran Christopher Bowser to branch sales coach for its Middle Tennessee offices. Bowser will work on improving loan officers' efficiency and help out with nonconforming loan structures.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS