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Articles Tagged with: ESG

Prepayment Spikes in Ida’s Wake – What to Expect

It is, of course, impossible to view the human suffering wrought by Hurricane Ida without being reminded of Hurricane Katrina’s impact 16 years ago. Fortunately, the levees are holding and Ida’s toll appears likely to be less severe. It is nevertheless worth taking a look at what happened to mortgages in the wake of New Orleans’s last major catastrophic weather event as it is reasonable to assume that prepayments could follow a similar pattern (though likely in a more muted way).

Following Katrina, prepayment speeds for pools of mortgages located entirely in Louisiana spiked between November 2005 and June 2006. As the following graph shows, prepayment speeds on Louisiana properties (the black curve) remained elevated relative to properties nationally (the blue curve) until the end of 2006. 

Comparing S-curves of Louisiana loans (the black curve in the chart below) versus all loans (the green curve) during the spike period (Nov. 2005 to Jun. 2006) reveals speeds ranging from 10 to 20 CPR faster across all refinance incentives. The figure below depicts an S-curve for non-spec 100% Louisiana pools and all non-spec pools with a weighted average loan age of 7 to 60 months during the period indicated.

The impact of Katrina on Louisiana prepayments becomes even more apparent when we consider speeds prior to the storm. As the S-curves below show, non-specified 100% Louisiana pools (the black curve) actually paid slightly slower than all non-spec pools between November 2003 and October 2005.

As we pointed out in June, a significant majority of prepayments caused by natural disaster events are likely to be voluntary, as opposed to the result of default as one might expect. This is because mortgages on homes that are fully indemnified against these perils are likely to be prepaid using insurance proceeds. This dynamic is reflected in the charts below, which show elevated voluntary prepayment rates running considerably higher than the delinquency spike in the wake of Katrina. We are able to isolate voluntary prepayment activity by looking at the GSE Loan Level Historical Performance datasets that include detailed credit information. This enables us to confirm that the prepay spike is largely driven by voluntary prepayments. Consequently, recent covid-era policy changes that may reduce the incidence of delinquent loan buyouts from MBS are unlikely to affect the dynamics underlying the prepayment behavior described above.

RiskSpan’s Edge Platform enables users to identify Louisiana-based loans and pools by drilling down into cohort details. The example below returns over $1 billion in Louisiana-only pools and $70 billion in Louisiana loans as of the August 2021 factor month.


Edge also allows users to structure more specified queries to identify the exposure of any portfolio or portfolio subset. Edge, in fact, can be used to examine any loan characteristic to generate S-curves, aging curves, and time series.  Contact us to learn more.



In ESG Policy, ‘E’ Should Not Come at the Expense of ‘S’

ESG—it is the hottest topic in our space. No conference or webinar is complete without a panel touting the latest ESG bond or the latest advance in reporting and certification. What a lot of these pieces neglect to address is the complicated relationship between the “E” and the “S” of ESG. In particular, that climate-risk exposed properties are also often properties in underserved communities, providing much-needed affordable housing to the country.

Last week, the White House issued an Executive Order of Climate-Related Financial Risk. The focus of the order was to direct government agencies toward both disclosure and mitigation of climate-related financial risk. The order reinforces the already relentless focus on ESG initiatives within our industry. The order specifically calls on the USDA, HUD, and the VA to ‘consider approaches to better integrate climate-related financial risk into underwriting standards, loan terms and conditions, and asset management and servicing procedures, as related to their Federal lending policies and programs.” Changes here will likely presage changes by the GSEs.

In mortgage finance, some of the key considerations related to disclosure and mitigation are as follows:

Disclosure of Climate-Related Financial Risk:

  • Homes exposed to increasing occurrence to natural hazards due to climate changes.
  • Homes exposed to the risk of decreasing home prices due to climate change, because of either increasing property insurance costs (or un-insurability) or localized transition risks of industry-exposed areas (e.g., Houston to the oil and gas industry).

Mitigation of Climate-Related Financial Risk:

  • Reducing the housing industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the president’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. For example, loan programs that support retrofitting existing housing stock to reduce energy consumption.
  • Considering a building location’s exposure to climate-related physical risk. Directing investment away for areas exposed to the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters.

But products and programs that aim to support the goal of increased disclosure and mitigation of climate-related financial risk can create situations in which underserved communities disproportionately bear the costs of our nation’s pivot toward climate resiliency. The table below connects the FEMA’s National Risk Index data to HUD’s list of census tracts that qualify for low-income housing tax credits, which HUD defines as tracts that have ‘50 percent of households with incomes below 60 percent of the Area Median Gross Income (AMGI) or have a poverty rate of 25 percent or more.’ Census tracts with the highest risk of annual loss from natural disaster events are disproportionally made of HUD’s Qualified Tracts.

As an industry, it’s important to remember that actions taken to mitigate exposure to increasing climate-related events will always have a cost to someone. These costs could be in the form of increased insurance premiums, decreasing home prices, or even loss of affordable housing options altogether. All this is not to say that action should not be taken, only that balancing social ESG goals should also be considered when ambitious environmental ESG goals come at their expense.

The White House identified this issue right at the top of the order by indicating that any action on the order would need to account for ‘disparate impacts on disadvantaged communities and communities of color.’

“It is therefore the policy of my Administration to advance consistent, clear, intelligible, comparable, and accurate disclosure of climate-related financial risk (consistent with Executive Order 13707 of September 15, 2015 (Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People), including both physical and transition risks; act to mitigate that risk and its drivers, while accounting for and addressing disparate impacts on disadvantaged communities and communities of color (consistent with Executive Order 13985 of January 20, 2021 (Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government)) and spurring the creation of well-paying jobs; and achieve our target of a net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.”

The social impacts of any environmental initiative need to be considered. Steps should be taken to avoid having the cost of changes to underwriting processes and credit policies be disproportionately borne by underserved and vulnerable communities. To this end, a balanced ESG policy will ultimately require input from stakeholders across the mortgage industry.


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