RiskSpan VQI: Current Underwriting Standards – Quarter 1 2019
The RiskSpan Vintage Quality Index (“VQI”) rose to its highest point (105.16), since September of 2008, in January of 2019, before dropping down to just below 100 in March of 2019. The spike in January was due to a slight increase in all risk factors with cash-out refinances going up by 1.4%. The drop in the VQI from January to March was due to a 5.7% decrease in LTV’s over 80, a 4.2% decrease in DTI’s over 45, and a 1.1% decrease in FICO’s under 660. However, cash-out refinances continued its upward trend and increased by 2.1% in the same time period.
RiskSpan introduced the VQI in 2015 as a way of quantifying the underwriting environment of a particular vintage of mortgage originations. The idea is to provide credit modelers a way of controlling for a particular vintage’s underwriting standards, which tend to shift over time. The VQI is a function of the average number of risk layers associated with a loan originated during a given month. It is computed using the loan-level historical data released by the GSEs in support of their Credit Risk Transfer initiatives (CRT data) for months prior to December 2005, and using loan level disclosure data supporting MBS issuances through today. The value is then normalized such that January 1, 2003 has an index value of 100. The peak of the index, a value of 139 in December 2007, indicates that loans issued in that month had an average risk layer factor 39% greater (i.e., loans issued that month were 39% riskier) than loan originated during 2003. In other words, lower VQI values indicate tighter underwriting standards (and vice-versa).
Build-Up of VQI
The following chart illustrates how each of the following risk layers contributes to the overall VQI:
- Loans with low credit scores (FICO scores below 660)
- Loans with high loan-to-value ratios (over 80 percent)
- Loans with subordinate liens
- Loans with only one borrower
- Cash-out refinance loans
- Loans secured by multi-unit properties
- Loans secured by investment properties
- Loans with high debt-to-income ratios (over 45%)
- Loans underwritten based on reduced documentation
- Adjustable rate loans
Analytical and Data Assumptions
- Issuance Data for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- Loans originated more than three months prior to issuance are excluded because the index is meant to reflect current market conditions.
- Loans likely to have been originated through the HARP program, as identified by LTV, MI coverage percentage, and loan purpose are also excluded. These loans do not represent credit availability in the market, as they likely would not have been originated today if not for the existence of HARP.
- Freddie Mac data goes back to December 2005. Fannie Mae data only goes back to December 2014.
- Certain Freddie Mac data fields were missing prior to June 2008.
GSE historical loan performance data release in support of GSE Risk Transfer activities was used to help back-fill data where it was missing.
Note: The analysis in this blog post was developed using RiskSpan’s Edge Platform. The RiskSpan Edge Platform is a module-based data management, modeling, and predictive analytics software platform for loans and fixed-income securities. Click here to learn more.