U.S. home lenders see leaner times ahead: Fannie Mae survey

FILE PHOTO: New home construction is seen in San Diego, California, U.S. on August 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. mortgage lenders are bracing for rockier times as consumers demand for home loans slows and competition in the mortgage industry intensifies, Fannie Mae’s latest quarterly survey released on Monday showed.

Some lenders are worried about a squeeze on their profit margin, but the number of them has fallen since the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the 184 mortgage executives who responded to the survey.

In a response to a tougher climate, more lenders said they plan to relax their lending standards, which could attract more borrowers, survey data showed.

“Expectations to ease credit standards climbed to survey highpoints in the second quarter as more lenders reported slowing mortgage demand and increasing concerns about competition from other lenders,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist at Washington-based mortgage finance agency, said in a statement.

The margin on the share of lenders who saw a drop in consumer demand for a loan to buy a home in the past three months over the share of lenders who saw a rise in purchase loan demand fell to about 30 percent, the lowest in two years on a year-over-year basis, Fannie Mae said.

The net percentage of lenders which anticipate lower profit margin in the next three months stood at 6 points, down from 12 points in the first quarter and from 31 points in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The net share of lenders which expect to ease credit standards rose to 15 points in the second quarter, up from about 3.5 points a year earlier.

Fannie Mae’s quarterly lender sentiment survey was launched in March 2014.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Lisa Shumaker