Australian RMBS Index Report Q3 2014: Housing Loan Arrears Hit Eight-Year Low

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1 Australian RMBS Index Report Q3 2014: Housing Loan Arrears Hit Eight-Year Low Primary Credit Analyst: Erin Kitson, Melbourne (61) ; Secondary Contacts: Kate J Thomson, Melbourne (61) ; Narelle Coneybeare, Sydney (61) ; Table Of Contents Major Banks Still Dominate New Issuance Prime Arrears Levels Fall To Their Lowest Level In Nine Years Counterparty Ratings Exposure Cumulative Net Losses Stable And Prepayments Up Outlook Related Criteria And Research NOVEMBER 27,

2 Australian RMBS Index Report Q3 2014: Housing Loan Arrears Hit Eight-Year Low Table 1 Performance Indicators Total delinquencies (including repossessions) Q Q Q Q Q Australian prime (%) Australian subprime and nonconforming (%) plus day delinquencies (including repossessions) Australian prime (%) Australian subprime and nonconforming (%) Prepayment rate Australian prime (%) Australian subprime and nonconforming (%) House price growth (weighted average of eight capital cities)* House Price Index (%) Economic data Unemployment rate (%) *Percentage change from corresponding quarter of previous year. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Table 2 Scenarios For Australian RMBS Collateral: f 2015f 2016f Comment/outlook Real GDP growth (%) Softer growth as economy rebalances away from mining investment Collateral credit quality Neutral Unemployment rate (%) Unemployment expected to ease Neutral to somewhat positive House Price Index (HPI)* 9.2 N.A. N.A. Strong house price growth not abating Neutral to somewhat positive Official cash rate (%) Normalization of interest rates forecast over the medium term Consumer Price Index (CPI) (%) Neutral to somewhat negative CPI forecast to decline Neutral Source: Real GDP growth, unemployment rate, official cash rate, and CPI forecasts derived by Standard & Poor's. HPI (weighted average of eight capital cities) provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. *Percentage change from corresponding quarter of previous year. N.A.--Not available. Major Banks Still Dominate New Issuance New issuance levels for residential mortgage-backed securities' (RMBS) have continued to keep pace with the levels observed in Six new publicly rated prime RMBS transactions totaling approximately A$8.9 billion were issued during the third quarter (Q3). Issuance in Q3 was up about 9% year on year. Various originator types undertook new NOVEMBER 27,

3 issuance during the quarter. (Watch the related CreditMatters TV segment, "With Interest-Only Lending On The Up, What's The Outlook For Australian RMBS In 2015?" dated Nov. 28, 2014.) The major banks have continued to dominate the new issuance ranks, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia ranked No.1 and Westpac Banking Corp. at No.2 in that category on the Top 10 Sponsor List. The residential lending market in Australia has become increasingly cutthroat, making it difficult for smaller residential mortgage lenders to compete against the major banks (see "Business Pressures Rising For Australian Mutual Financial Institutions," published Oct. 26, 2014). Macquarie Securitisation Ltd. was ranked No.3 on the Top 10 Sponsor List as of Sept. 30, 2014, making it a notable standout in the new issuance ranks. Macquarie's rise through the new issuance ranks reflects the bank's growth and the rapid expansion of its residential mortgage portfolio. We expect 2014 issuance levels to remain roughly on track with the levels observed in Prime Arrears Levels Fall To Their Lowest Level In Nine Years Prime arrears continued their downward trajectory in Q3, reaching a low of 0.98%. This is the lowest level recorded since November 2005 (see chart 8). The days' bucket recorded the most pronounced decrease during the quarter, with arrears levels falling 0.10%. The ongoing low interest-rate environment has influenced the decline in arrears during recent months. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said in its most recent Statement of Monetary Policy that the decline in average lending rates during recent months is partly due to the ongoing replacement of more expensive fixed and discount variable-rate loans from previous years as well as a reduction in interest rates on offer for some borrowers. Lower interest rates have enabled many borrowers to stay on top of their mortgage repayments. The Standard & Poor's Performance Index (SPIN) for subprime and nonconforming mortgages increased to 5.23% during Q3 from 4.58% in Q2 (chart 8). The subprime SPIN is subject to greater volatility, given the smaller number of transactions that comprise the index. However, the increase in arrears might reflect increasing cash flow pressure for this borrower type, many of whom are self-employed. Self-employed borrowers are more likely to experience mortgage stress as a result of a subdued economy. Also, the participation rate for employment is currently around its lowest level since the mid-2000s and the unemployment rate is at its highest level in more than a decade. Has the recent rise in interest-only lending in the residential mortgage market been reflected in the RMBS market? Interest-only lending has become more prominent in Australia in recent years. Interest-only lending as a share of new lending for authorized deposit-taking institutions (ADIs) is around 40% (chart 1). NOVEMBER 27,

4 Chart 1 The level of interest-only loans underlying RMBS transactions has varied over time, based on our observations. However, the proportion of interest-only loans tends to change in line with interest-rate movements (chart 2). A period of low interest rates is generally followed by an uptick in interest-only lending (chart 2). NOVEMBER 27,

5 Chart 2 Do interest-only loans comprise a material share of RMBS? More than half of the outstanding balance of interest-only loans underlying RMBS is for investment purpose (chart 3). Investment loans make up approximately 26% of RMBS loans. NOVEMBER 27,

6 Chart 3 The recent growth in interest-only lending has been partly driven by an increase in financing needs for investment properties, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. Investors have a stronger incentive to take out interest-only loans than owner occupiers because interest expenses are tax deductible for investment loans. Furthermore, investors tend to maximize the potential tax benefit by taking out loans with longer interest-only periods (table 3). Table 3 Repayment Profile Breakdown Across Borrower Type Owner-occupied (%) Investment PI amort Less than three years years years Greater than 10 years Source: Standard & Poor's. Note: Data as of August About three-quarters of interest-only loans securitized are from the portfolios of financial institutions. However, nonbank originators and other banks have a disproportionate share of interest-only lending relative to their total share of RMBS outstandings (chart 4). NOVEMBER 27,

7 Chart 4 Are interest-only loans inherently riskier from a credit perspective? Interest-only loans carry a higher risk of repayment shock, particularly when the loan reverts to a principal and interest repayment profile, and of the loan going into a negative equity position should the loan balance exceed the property value if house prices were to decline. Investors are more likely to take out an interest-only loan, given the tax incentives available to them. These types of borrowers are usually in an age cohort with stronger earning capacity and a higher net worth (chart 5 and chart 6). NOVEMBER 27,

8 Chart 5 NOVEMBER 27,

9 Chart 6 Interest-only loans tend to be underwritten at lower loan-to-value (LTV) ratios, and the debt-serviceability assessments carried out by many lenders are based on a borrower's ability to service both the principal and interest because most interest-only periods are for a limited period, limiting the risk of repayment shock. Most lenders also qualify borrowers at an interest-rate payment level that is higher than the prevailing interest rate. Across the RMBS portfolios, we have not observed a material difference in the arrears performance of investment loans compared with owner-occupied loans (chart 7). NOVEMBER 27,

10 Chart 7 The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)'s latest Prudential Practice Guide (APG 223 Residential Mortgage Lending) is likely to further entrench the sound lending practices that have been a key characteristic of the Australian banking system, in our view. According to the guide, APRA expects interest-only loans would not be approved if the borrower cannot qualify for a loan on a principal and interest basis, and that a debt-serviceability assessment would include a buffer over a loan's interest rate. Many lenders already adopt this approach in their underwriting practices. We believe the key risk of interest-only loans is that they are more susceptible to a downturn in property prices. Borrowers with interest-only loans can have less incentive than owner-occupiers to prepay the loan, particularly if the loan is for investment purposes. This means there is less equity built up and therefore less of a buffer to withstand a downturn in property prices. Counterparty Ratings Exposure In terms of rating transition, counterparty risk is a key rating risk for Australian RMBS. The lowering of the financial strength ratings of lenders' mortgage insurance (LMI) providers would affect the ratings on subordinated notes in NOVEMBER 27,

11 prime RMBS, as would any change in criteria for recognizing LMI as a form of credit enhancement (see "Request For Comment: Methodology For Assessing Mortgage Insurance And Similar Guarantees And Supports In Structured And Public Sector Finance and Covered Bonds" published Aug. 18, 2014). We placed 150 tranches of RMBS transactions in Australia and New Zealand on CreditWatch with negative implications on Nov. 11, 2014, after we lowered our ratings on Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Pty Ltd. and its parent, Genworth Financial Inc. (see "Research Update: Genworth Financial Inc. And Genworth Life Insurance Ratings Lowered; Outlook Negative," published on Nov. 7, 2014). About 64% of loans are insured by LMI providers across the RMBS portfolios. Approximately half of insured loans are insured by Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Pty Ltd. Cumulative Net Losses Stable And Prepayments Up Cumulative net losses are relatively low for a majority of vintages across the prime and nonconforming sector. In the prime space, the 2006 vintage has the highest level of losses, at 0.19%, followed by the 2010 vintage, for which a majority of losses are largely attributable to one transaction (chart 14). Cumulative net losses for the nonconforming sector are relatively low, with a majority of vintages reporting as of Sept. 30, 2014, a cumulative net loss below 1.6%, except the 2008 vintage, which is limited to two transactions (chart 15). Prepayment rates across the prime and nonconforming sectors increased during Q3 (chart 16). The increase probably reflects a rise in refinance activity, given the lower interest-rate environment. The rise in the nonconforming space in particular reflects the greater ability of many of these borrowers to refinance their loans at a better rate, given their performance history and the current market environment. Outlook A fall in property prices and an rising interest-rate environment present a risk for certain borrowers. However, we believe such borrowers are a minority across the RMBS space. A majority of loans underlying RMBS transactions are well placed to weather such a scenario, given their relatively high levels of seasoning and modest LTV ratio positions. We expect the solid collateral performance of RMBS transactions to continue, with changes in arrears levels primarily being driven by changes in the interest rate. NOVEMBER 27,

12 Chart 8 NOVEMBER 27,

13 Chart 9 NOVEMBER 27,

14 Chart 10 NOVEMBER 27,

15 Chart 11 NOVEMBER 27,

16 Chart 12 NOVEMBER 27,

17 Chart 13 NOVEMBER 27,

18 Chart 14 NOVEMBER 27,

19 Chart 15 NOVEMBER 27,

20 Chart 16 Related Criteria And Research Related Criteria Criteria: Outlook Assumptions For The Australian Residential Mortgage Market, Feb. 10, 2014 Criteria: Counterparty Risk Framework Methodology And Assumptions, June 25, 2013 Criteria: Australian RMBS Rating Methodology And Assumptions, Sept. 1, 2011 Use Of CreditWatch and Outlooks, Sept. 14, 2009 Criteria: Australia And New Zealand RMBS: Analyzing Credit Quality, Feb. 21, 2007 Related Research Asia-Pacific Economies Limp Toward Higher-Quality Growth, Nov. 26, 2014 Australia's Regional Banks And Mutual Financial Institutions Losing The Pricing War Against The Major Banks In the Home Loan Market, Nov. 17, 2014 Genworth Financial Inc. And Genworth Life Insurance Ratings Lowered; Outlook Negative, Nov. 6, 2014 Business Pressures Rising For Australian Mutual Financial Institutions, Oct. 26, 2014 Industry And Economic Ratings Outlook: Australian RMBS Fundamentals Reflect A Stable Economic Environment, Sept. 30, 2014 Comparing The U.K., Dutch, Australian, And Japanese RMBS And Mortgage Markets, Sept. 18, NOVEMBER 27,

21 Request For Comment: Methodology For Assessing Mortgage Insurance And Similar Guarantees And Supports In Structured And Public Sector Finance And Covered Bonds, Aug. 18, 2014 Australia And New Zealand Structured Finance Scenario And Sensitivity Analysis: Understanding The Effects Of Macroeconomic Factors On Credit Quality, Aug. 1, 2014 An Overview Of Australia's Housing Market And Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, Jan. 15, 2014 Scenario Analysis: 2013 Update To Lenders' Mortgage Insurance Sensitivity Analysis On Australian Prime RMBS, Nov. 25, 2013 Under Standard & Poor's policies, only a Rating Committee can determine a Credit Rating Action (including a Credit Rating change, affirmation or withdrawal, Rating Outlook change, or CreditWatch action). This commentary and its subject matter have not been the subject of Rating Committee action and should not be interpreted as a change to, or affirmation of, a Credit Rating or Rating Outlook. Standard & Poor's (Australia) Pty. Ltd. holds Australian financial services licence number under the Corporations Act Standard & Poor's credit ratings and related research are not intended for and must not be distributed to any person in Australia other than a wholesale client (as defined in Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act). NOVEMBER 27,

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