New wave of U.S. mortgage trouble threatens financial institutions
U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country’s biggest banks.
By Peter Rudegeair, Reuters
The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along.
More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.
For a typical consumer, that shift can translate to their monthly payment more than tripling, a particular burden for the subprime borrowers that often took out these loans. And payments will rise further when the Federal Reserve starts to hike rates, because the loans usually carry floating interest rates.
The number of borrowers missing payments around the 10-year point can double in their eleventh year, data from consumer credit agency Equifax (EFX) shows. When the loans go bad, banks can lose an eye-popping 90 cents on the dollar, because a home equity line of credit is usually the second mortgage a borrower has. If the bank forecloses, most of the proceeds of the sale pay off the main mortgage, leaving little for the home equity lender.
There are scenarios where everything works out fine. For example, if economic growth picks up, and home prices rise, borrowers may be able to refinance their main mortgage and their home equity lines of credit into a single new fixed-rate loan. Some borrowers would also be able to repay their loans by selling their homes into a strengthening market.continue reading »