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BofA CEO Moynihan Speaks on Housing Trends

Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO, Bank of America

A number of factors are affecting the housing market. Despite these changes, one needs to keep perspective when analyzing this industry, according to Brian Moynihan, Chairman, and CEO of Bank of America, who recently spoke about the changes in mortgage interest caps and the macro factors affecting housing at CNBC’s Net/Net event in New York.

Speaking about the changes to the cap in the mortgage interest that homeowners could write off, implemented in the Tax Cuts Act, Moynihan said that it was unchartered territory for many homeowners as well as financial institutions because the home mortgage interest deduction was “so jealously protected for so many years. And $10,000 is a pretty healthy amount of interest.”

However, he said that these changes wouldn’t have a huge effect on homeowners because to qualify for that kind of cap on a mortgage, “a household's probably got to have a $100,000 to $125,000 of income, a little bit more. So a couple hundred dollars a month isn't going to make the decision different.”

At the most, Moynihan said it would slow down a homeowner’s decision to upgrade. “But I think we've got to be careful about over-estimating across the 60 million households that have debt out of 130 million households in America.”

Touching upon the high-interest rate environment and the health of the housing market, Moynihan said, “Housing is at tails,” as a number of factors were affecting the housing market, but they should be kept in perspective, especially since the rising rates will not change the market in any major way. “We still did, around, 10.5 billion of mortgage loans this quarter. Last year we probably did 13 billion,” Moynihan told the audience.

Looking at the effect of population on housing, Moynihan said, “At the end of the day, without population growth that we had in the mid-2000s at 1.5 percent the demand for housing is going to sort of ebb and flow a little differently."

Looking at the larger market, Moynihan said that housing construction was growing evenly because of locational problems. “It's really tight in cities like Charlotte where we’re trying to build tens of thousands of units for workers because we're short. In other places, there's an excess of supply,” especially in cities that are still recovering from the Great Recession.

Despite rising home prices and inventory remaining down, for the most part, Moynihan said that they were fine for now. “But we got to watch it because it’ll be a leading indicator of people’s belief in their wealth if we see housing prices tip over,” he said.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and editor. A former Online Editor and currently a reporter for MReport, she is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.
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