An interesting way to look at the topic of expensive housing markets is to look for data in LendingPatterns™ on the areas with the most lending. If the largest MSAs by population aren’t matching the top MSAs by numbers of loans, this might be an indication they are getting too pricey for some to afford.

But in looking at the last full-year statistics available (2014), we see that Los Angeles and New York, the two biggest MSAs in the country, are number 1 and 2, respectively, though in reverse order of population.

Los Angeles-Glendale-Long Beach had 297,000 mortgages extended in this MSA in 2014, 2.5 percent of the national total. New York-Jersey City-White Plains wasn’t far behind, at 265,000 loans and 2.23 percent.

Preventing us from getting a full view of areas with the most lending is that by far, the largest MSA is “Not Listed.” More than one in eight loans (13.74 percent) has unlisted status.

More familiar names round out the top 10 areas with the most lending for 2014. Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights takes the bronze, at 252,000, followed by Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Washington, DC-Arlington-Alexandria, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., Dallas-Plano-Irving and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood.

The top 10 metros had nearly one in five of all mortgages extended in 2014 according to HMDA data (not all lenders are required to report, but most are). Their total of 2.3 million home loans came to 19.5 percent of a total of 11.9 million. The report tracked a total of 409 MSAs.

The MSAs bringing up the rear in 2014 include Mayaguez, PR (1,257 mortgages), Carson City, Nev. with 1,573, and Guyama, PR at 1,597. The Territory of Puerto Rico had three of the ten lowest MSAs for lending activity in 2014.

The full 2015 HMDA report will be released shortly by the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council, but Lending Patterns™ has a good sampling of lending data for the year because lenders have voluntarily shared their numbers with ComplianceTech in advance of the full rollout.

The 2015 “Early Look” report covers the same 409 MSAs, but just six million loans. The first thing that jumps out at me is the paucity of lending in Puerto Rico. Five of the ten MSAs with the lowest number of loans are in the territory, including the bottom three (Mayaguez, Guyama, and San German).

At the top of the ladder, Atlanta has replaced New York as the number two lender, with NYC falling to third. There is some shuffling around of positions, but the top 10 MSAs are the same ones as for the full year of 2014.

I plan to take a look at the full year 2015 numbers to see if there are any significant changes from 2014 or the 2015 Early Look, and if there are I will follow that up in a future blog.



(Mark Fogarty is a journalist and analyst who has been covering the mortgage industry for more than 30 years.)