Friday, June 12, 2009

Las Vegas Mortgage Market Concentration

Mortgage market concentration describes the level in which a few mortgage firms account for the preponderance of the total share of business in the market. Sometimes the winner takes all or mostly all of the business in a market. In general, mortgage markets are competitive. There are many firms competing to originate mortgages in Las Vegas.

By applying metrics, we can observe trends over time and determine if the markets are moving towards greater market concentration (when a few mortgage firms dominate the market) or moving towards greater competition (the leaders of the market have smaller portions of the total).

Two measurements of concentration were applied to the mortgage market for Las Vegas. The data comes from MortgageDataWeb's municipal mortgage records database. One metric, known as a concentration ratio, measures the share of the market attributed to the top “n” mortgage lenders. Low values of concentration ratio describe competitive markets. High concentration ratios suggest market domination by the top firms. Another measurement of market concentration is the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI). HHI is equal to the sum of the squares of market share of each participant in the market. If a small hand full of firms have very large market share, the market will show higher values for HHI. If a lender had a 35 percent market share, HHI will exceed 1200 for the market. If the top lender had a 10 percent market share then HHI would not exceed 1000.

Click Chart for Large View

The chart above shows the mortgage market concentration ratio for Las Vegas metropolitan area for year from 2003 to 2009 (year to date). Both the concentration ratio for the top 20 mortgage lenders and the HHI were included. The concentration ratio reached a bottom in 2005. 2005 was the peak year of home prices growth, subprime lending, and the irrational exuberance that lead to the breakdown of housing and mortgage lending in the years that followed.. Many mortgage company participants were involved in Las Vegas and homeowners in Las Vegas were less partial to any particular mortgage lender. Since 2005, the concentration ratio increased. Fewer mortgage companies participated in loan originations within Las Vegas. HHI, plotted on the same chart above tracked the concentration ratio for the top 20 lenders. The HHI value was lowest in 2005 and increased each year showing that the direction moved towards increased market concentration. The markets were not dominated since HHI remained relatively low.

Market concentration in Las Vegas seems to have stabilized. As more bank failures occur and more mergers occur, we have a potential problem moving forward however the numbers show a very competitive mortgage market in Las Vegas.


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