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Are Recast Loans Skewing Agency Speeds?

In a previous blog, we highlighted large curtailments on loans, behavior that was driving a prepayment spike on some new-issue pools. Any large curtailment should also result in shortening the remaining term of the loan because the mortgage payment is nearly always “level-pay” for loans in a conventional pool. And we see that behavior for all mortgages experiencing large curtailments.

However, we noted that nearly half of these loans showed a subsequent extension of their remaining term back to where it would have been without the curtailment.1 This extension occurred anywhere between zero and sixteen months after the curtailment, with a median of one month after the large payment. We presume these maturity extensions are a loan “recast,” which is explained well in a recent FAQ from Rocket Mortgage. In summary, a recast allows the borrower to lower their monthly payment after making a curtailment above some threshold, typically at least $10,000 extra principal.

Some investors may not be aware that a recast loan may remain in the trust, especially since the terms of the loan are being changed without a buyout.2 Further, since the extension lowers the monthly payment, the trust will receive principal more slowly ex curtailment than under the original terms of the loan. This could possibly affect buyers of the pool after the curtailment and before the recast.

While the number of recast loans is small, we found it interesting that the loan terms are changed without removing the loans from the pool. We identified nearly 7,800 loans that were issued between 2021 Q4 and 2022 Q1 and had both a curtailment greater than $10,000 and a subsequent re-extension of loan term.

Of these loans, the typical time to term-recast is zero to two months, with 1% of the loans recasting a year or more after the curtailment.

Some of these loans reported multiple curtailments and recasts, with loan 9991188863 in FR QD1252 extending on three separate occasions after three large curtailments. It seems the door is always open to extension.

For loans that recast their maturities after a curtailment, 85% had extensions between 10 and 25 years.

Large curtailments are uncommon and term-recasts comprise roughly half of loans in our sample with large curtailments, so term recasts will typically have only a small effect on pool cash flows, extending the time of principal receipt ex curtailment and possibly changing borrower behavior.3 For large pools, any effect will be typically exceeded by prepayments due to turnover.

However, for some smaller pools the WAM extension due to recast is noticeable. We identified dozens of pools whose WAM extended after a recast of underlying loan(s). The table below shows just a few examples. All of these pools are comparatively small, which is to be expected since just one or two individual loan recasts can have an outsized effect on a small pool’s statistics.

Pool IDFactor DateCurrent FaceExtension (months)
FR QD76177/202220,070,7376
FR QD00061/202215,682,7755
FN CB336711/202214,839,9195
FR QD57367/202210,916,9596
FN BU05814/202210,164,0006
FR QD44926/20223,113,53216
FN BV20765/20223,165,50918
FR QD60137/20223,079,25022



The Curious Case of Curtailments

With more than 90% of mortgages out-of-the-money from a refinancing standpoint, the MBS market has rightly focused on activities that affect discounts, including turnover and to a much lesser extent cash-out refinancings. In this analysis we examine the source of fast speeds on new issue loans and pools.

As we dig deeper on turnover, we notice a curious behavior related to curtailments that has existed for several years but gone largely ignored in recent refi-dominated environments. Curtailment activity, especially higher-than-expected curtailments on new-production mortgages, has steadily gotten stronger in more recent vintages.

For this analysis we define a curtailment as any principal payment that is larger than the contractual monthly payment but smaller than the remaining balance of the loan, which is more typically classified as payoff due to either a refinancing or house sale. In the first graph, we show curtailment speeds for new loans with note rates that were not refinanceable on a rate/term basis.1 As you can see, the 2022 vintage shows a significant uptick in curtailments in the second month. Other recent vintages show lower but still significant early-month curtailments, whereas pre-2018 vintages show very little early curtailment activity.

Digging deeper, we separate the loans by purpose: purchase vs. refi. Curtailment speeds are significantly higher among purchase loans than among refis in the first six months, with a noticeable spike at months two and three.

Focusing on purchase loans, we notice that the behavior is most noticeable for non-first-time homebuyers (non-FTHB) and relatively absent with FTHBs. The 2022-vintage non-FTHB paid nearly 6 CPR in their second month of borrowing.

What drives this behavior? While it’s impossible to say for certain, we believe that homeowners purchasing new homes are using proceeds from the sale of the previous home to partially pay off their new loan, with the sale of the previous loan coming a month or so after the close of the first loan.

How pervasive is this behavior? We looked at purchase loans originated in 2022 where the borrower was not a first-time home buyer and noted that 0.5% of the loans account for nearly 75% of the total curtailment activity on a dollar basis. That means these comparatively high, early speeds (6 CPR and higher on some pools) are driven by a small number of loans, with that vast majority of loans showing no significant curtailments in the early months.

High-curtailment loans show large payments relative to their original balances, ranging from 5% to 85% of the unpaid balance with a median value of 25%. We found no pattern with regard to either geography or seller/servicer. Looking at mortgage note rates, 80% of these high-curtailment loans were at 3.5% or lower and only 10% of these borrowers had a positive refinancing incentive at all. Only 1.5% had incentives above 25bp, with a maximum incentive of just 47bp. These curtailments are clearly not explained by rate incentive.

The relatively rarity of these curtailments means that, while in aggregate non-FTHBs are paying nearly 6 CPR in the early months, actual results within pools may vary greatly. In the chart below, we show pool speeds for 2022-vintage majors/multi-lenders, plotted against the percentage of the pool’s balance associated with non-FTHB purchases. We controlled for refi incentive by looking at pools that were out of the money by 0bp to 125bp. As the percentage of non-FTHBs in a pool increases, so does early prepayment speed, albeit with noise around the trend.

We observe that a very small percentage of non-FTHB borrowers are making large curtailment payments in the first few months after closing and that these large payments translate into a short-term pop in speeds on new production at- or out-of-the-money pools. Investors looking to take advantage of this behavior on discount MBS should focus on pools with high non-FTHB borrowers.


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