September 19, 2007 at 11:47 PM #10347hipmattParticipant
Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) — As many as half of the 450,000 subprime borrowers whose mortgage payments increase in the next three months may lose their homes because they can’t sell, refinance or qualify for help from the U.S. government.
“Short of the cavalry riding in over the hill, a lot of these people are just stuck,” said Christopher Cagan, director of research and analytics at Santa Ana, California-based First American CoreLogic, the risk management unit of the biggest U.S. title insurer.
The number of borrowers whose mortgage payments jump in the next three months will be the second-highest ever for a quarter, according to Credit Suisse Group, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank. Twenty-seven percent have already missed a payment, said First American LoanPerformance, which owns the largest database of U.S. mortgages. That makes them ineligible for the Federal Housing Administration bailout proposed last month by President George W. Bush.
There’s no lifeline in sight for subprime borrowers, who face an average increase of 26 percent, or $400 a month, according to CoreLogic. Falling prices and a rising inventory of unsold homes make it difficult or impossible to sell or refinance without losing money and government programs aren’t designed to aid the most desperate. That leaves foreclosure as the only alternative, and one that will deepen and prolong the worst housing downturn in at least 16 years.
Robert Murray of Middletown, New Jersey, said he didn’t pay enough attention when he took out a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage in 2002. This month, his payments ballooned to $1,800 from $1,300. Because he makes about $90,000 a year at his Newark Liberty International Airport maintenance job and hasn’t missed a payment, he said he hoped he might be a good candidate to refinance.
Since the value of his home has declined from the $265,000 he owes on two mortgages, Murray’s equity has vanished. If Murray were to apply for an FHA-insured refinance, he’d be out of luck.
The FHA bailout program, called FHASecure, requires the borrower to have at least 3 percent equity in the home. Some borrowers can get a second mortgage in addition to the FHA loan to cover the entire value of their houses. Murray borrowed more than his home is now worth, so he would have to write a check of at least $45,000 to close a refinance. He doesn’t have the cash.
“I’m way upside down,” Murray said. “The payments will kill me now. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
About 48 percent of subprime borrowers wouldn’t qualify to refinance into a mortgage that conforms to the underwriting rules established by government-sponsored agencies Fannie Mae in Washington and Freddie Mac in McLean, Virginia, according to a report by New York-based analysts for UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank.
“There are a number of people who have mortgage debt that’s more than the value of their house, and a lot of those people are going to walk away,” said David Olson, president of Wholesale Access Mortgage Research & Consulting Inc. in Columbia, Maryland. “That will put more homes on the market, which already has too many.”
The Federal Reserve’s half-point benchmark interest rate cut yesterday will have little impact on borrowers whose mortgages are adjusting, said Ed Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast in Los Angeles.
“It’s not going to alter the housing situation, or clarify defaults and delinquencies,” Leamer said.
U.S. home prices fell by a record 3.2 percent in the second quarter, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors, has warned that year-over-year prices will fall for the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
`Painful for People’
It would take 9.6 months to sell off all the existing homes on the market, the longest amount of time in at least eight years, according to the Chicago-based realtors group.
Listings in the Orlando, Florida, area show 26,300 homes for sale, a 20-month supply, said Gary Balanoff, a real estate broker with ReMax Select in Oviedo, Florida.
“I’ve been in business 23 years, and I’ve never seen some of the price reductions we have here,” Balanoff said. “It’s painful for people.”
Investors, too, seem to be looking to Washington for solutions to subprime problems that may never come, said Andrew Laperriere, a Washington-based managing director at research firm International Strategy & Investment Group. The three rallies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 since its July 19 peak came after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac suggested Aug. 8 that they could widen their portfolios, the Federal Reserve lowered its discount rate on Aug. 17, and Bush’s establishment of FHASecure on Aug. 31, Laperriere said.
`No Silver Bullet’
“There is no silver bullet from Washington that will prevent home prices from falling further,” Laperriere said. “A lot of people are operating on a mistaken impression.”
The fact that more than a quarter of subprime borrowers default on their adjustable loans before the rates reset makes a political solution less likely, Laperriere said.
“The myth here is that the resets have been the driver of payment delinquencies, but the fact is if the borrower can’t afford the teaser rate payments, then they can’t afford to ever pay back the loan,” he said.
FHASecure expands the number of borrowers eligible for FHA- guaranteed loans to include homeowners in default. FHA borrowers take out loans from about 8,500 qualified lenders, paying an added insurance premium. Their monthly payments are guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, which covers defaults from the pool of insurance payments, using no taxpayer money.
In addition to not missing any payments before their mortgages reset and having at least 3 percent equity in their homes, eligible borrowers must have a job and the income to cover the payments, said Steve O’Halloran, spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the FHA.
FHASecure is expected to help as many as 120,000 borrowers refinance into FHA-backed loans this year, double the number of last year, O’Halloran said.
For now, Murray will struggle to make his monthly payments, foregoing vacations, restaurants and perhaps parochial school for his 5-year-old daughter. He yearns for help from the government.
The Federal Reserve Bank pumped $62 billion into the banking system on Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 in an effort to soothe a credit crisis. Murray said the Fed should do the same for borrowers.
“If they gave us that money, we’d be able to be out of this predicament,” he said.
Subprime mortgages are available to borrowers with bad or incomplete credit histories. They made up about 20 percent of home loans issued last year and about 11 percent in the first half of this year, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry newsletter.
The number of adjustable-rate subprime mortgages rose to 72.5 percent, or $1.26 trillion, of all adjustable-rate loans outstanding in the first quarter, a 17-fold increase over 2001, UBS said.
About 57 percent of mortgage broker customers with adjustable-rate mortgages were unable to refinance into a new loan in August, according to a study by Campbell Communications, a market research firm in Washington.
Adjustable-rate mortgages to subprime borrowers account for 44 percent of all new foreclosures, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington.
“A lot of the folks who are in trouble are in trouble even before their mortgage rate resets,” said Bert Ely, a banking consultant in Alexandria, Virginia. “They can’t refinance because they shouldn’t have gotten their mortgages in the first place.”
Adjustable-rate mortgages of all kinds worth $139.2 billion, the most ever, are scheduled to reset at higher interest rates in the next three months, according to First American LoanPerformance in San Francisco. Subprime adjustable- rate mortgages make up $84.4 billion of that total.
In the third quarter, $136.7 billion of mortgages were slated for reset, with subprime comprising $87.4 billion.
About 2.91 million subprime borrowers have adjustable-rate mortgages, about 90 percent of which will have reset at higher interest rates by the end of 2008, LoanPerformance said.September 20, 2007 at 12:57 PM #85319CMcGParticipant
He can’t make an $1,800 a month payment on a $90K income? What am I missing here? Taxes, insurance maybe? Also, where do I sign up for such a maintenance job at the airport here in San Diego? I don’t mean to come off as a snob but that seems like a lot of money for, say, pushing a broom.September 20, 2007 at 1:19 PM #85321(former)FormerSanDieganParticipant
He can’t make an $1,800 a month payment on a $90K income?
Good point. That’s a housing debt-to-income ratio of 0.24. He must have a lot of other debt.September 20, 2007 at 3:27 PM #85332crParticipant
That Murray guy is a perfect example why the government should NOT do anything.
As you guys said, $1800/mo pamynet with a $90,000 income. That guy financed a lifestyle behind his above average income, and here’s his reply to facing reality:
“If they gave us that money, we’d be able to be out of this predicament,” he said.
What a joke? This guys want welfare for the relatively rich, financially reckless, and completely clueless.
Fortunately, I’m starting to think Bush’s plan is nothing but hot air:
Twenty-seven percent have already missed a payment, said First American LoanPerformance, which owns the largest database of U.S. mortgages. That makes them ineligible for the Federal Housing Administration bailout proposed last month by President George W. Bush.
Good.September 20, 2007 at 4:34 PM #85338SD RealtorParticipant
Coop I am with you…No intervention is the best way to go…
My fear is not one person or one bill… Bush is a boob and Hillary… well don’t get me started on her… but when I aggregate all of them together… 1582 snaking its way through the legislature… increasing conforming limits…FHA protection for jumbos…any of the democratic politicians coming to rescue homeowners in 08 (lest we not forget Hillary and her plans for socialized medicince) and the republicans equally idiotic response…. it seems to me that all of it together will amount to 3 things.
1 – I will pay for it with my taxes.
2 – It really will not affect a whole lot other then to maybe slow things down some.
3 – It will already add to my daily crabbiness that my wife has to endure.
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