Beazer counts on lender competition to constrain rising mortgage rates

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Beazer Homes USA is working to encourage competition among its approved lenders in order to help control upward pressure on home prices and lending rates that could slow sales.

"We realize that affordability is a major concern," President and CEO Allan Merrill said during the company's earnings call for its fiscal fourth quarter. Beazer generated more than $60 million in adjusted net earnings during the period ending Sept. 30, up from more than $33 million a year ago.

In addition to leaning heavily on its lender network's ability to offer more affordable rates than other builders' captive in-house units, Beazer also has been working to maintain an average sales price for its homes at relatively low levels to combat affordability pressures. Its current average sales price is $372,600.

When asked during the earnings call if there is any concern competition between lenders is leading to worrisome deterioration in mortgage underwriting characteristics, Merrill said this is "something to keep an eye on."

The company has examined data from the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and has "not seen a discernable change" in underwriting, he said. Fannie earlier this year adjusted its underwriting system to account for some concerns related to rising debt-to-income levels.

Beazer is aiming to engage in prudent spending as well as control costs and risks in the coming fiscal year.

Debt reduction, share repurchases and land spend will be the company's three capital priorities, according to Merrill. But consumer demand and land prices will be strong considerations in any land purchase, he said.

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Homebuilders Earnings Purchase Mortgage rates Housing market Risk management