Friday, September 14, 2007

Investors love resetting ARM rates, who knew people couldn't afford the rate jump?

National Mortgage News will run an interview Monday with Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. In the interview, conducted Thursday, Mozilo tries to "clarify misconceptions in the media about why consumers are going delinquent on their mortgages. He blames a majority of the problem on job losses and sagging home prices -- not ARM resets," says NMN editor Paul Muolo."Resets are not the issue," Mozilo told NMN.
Well, yeah... resets weren't an issue as long as home prices kept going up -- you just refinanced into another loan. Hopefully, NMN asked Mozilo why Countrywide cutback ARM production from $19.3 billion in August 2006 to $8.3 billion last month. (Turn sarcasm on.) The resets can't possibly be a problem. Investors love a solid reset from 5% to 7% on their loan portfolio, nothing lines the pockets better. The real problem is these borrowers. They can't pay the higher rates. In the 2-3 years their loan was fixed, all was well. Then property started to decline and many of these folks can't refinance or haven't boosted their 'stated income' the 20-40k to handle the payment increase.(Sarcasm off) If they can the rates are between 6-8% depending on FICO, loan to value, document type, their preference in music, etc To break it down in real terms, clients resetting are moving from 4-5% for prime clients to 6-7%. The annual cap on increases is 2%. Most folks mortgages are based on a 2 or 2.5% spread against LIBOR. LIBOR stands at 5.275% today. On a 500k mortgage loan amount the payment increase is about $800 a month in interest. Here is a chart of LIBOR the last few years:

As you can see global markets are demanding higher rates. All major financing is based against LIBOR. As an example the First Data Corporation private equity buyout deal is pricing $5B worth of loans at LIBOR plus 2.75%. Bloomberg piece here. Client's should carefully evaluate whether they want to keep their loan till the reset or look at a fixed rate. For prime conforming loans they are right at 6% for a 30Y fixed and jumbo mortgage rates are right about 7%. I think these rates are very attractive relative to the prospect of floating against an index that may take years to drop as the global economy slows down.

1 comment:

Jay said...

I read the other day that many people are going on foreclosure even before the ARM loan reset. This might support the idea that the ARM resets are not the problem.