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Mortgage Reit Explosive Growth Essay

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6/14/2014

Mortgage REITs See Explosive Growth - WSJ

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Mortgage REITs See Explosive Growth
By TEL IS D EMOS
Updated April 19, 2013 1:59 p.m. ET

Regulators are casting a skeptical eye on a fast-expanding corner of Wall Street amid worries about the risks posed by mortgage real-estate investment trusts. Mortgage REITs, which use borrowed money, or leverage, to invest in real-estate-backed debt, have been selling shares to the public at a rapid clip over the past three years. After averaging annual equity issuance of $4.9 billion from 2005 to 2010, they raised a record $16.5 billion in 2011 and $13.4 billion last year, according to data provider Dealogic. The sector is on track to break the record this year, with $7.8 billion already raised. Meanwhile, assets held by mortgage REITs have exploded in recent years, increasing from $159 billion in 2009 to $450 billion as of the end of last year, according to Capital IQ. However, they still represent only a sliver of the overall market for mortgage bonds, especially for securities backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are known as "agency-backed." The total market for Fannie and Freddie mortgage-backed securities was $7.5 trillion at the end of last year, according to the Federal Reserve's flow of funds data. Mortgage REITs hold less than 5% of that, according to the Fed. The largest holders are U.S. deposit-taking banks, which own $1.7 trillion, followed by foreign governments, which own $1.1 trillion. This...

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