Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Property Speculators first to default.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has released a report showing that as many as 1 in 5 mortgages currently in default in California belongs to borrowers who are not living in the homes with the defaulted loans. The default rates for investor loans were even worse in Nevada, Arizona and Florida, where one-quarter to one-third of all defaulted mortgages as of the end of June were related to investor loans, according to the report. The MBA defines "defaulted mortgages" as those that are 90 days or more past due or in foreclosure. The rapid rise in default rates has led some members of Congress to call for urgent action to aid borrowers who are threatened with the loss of their homes. But the MBA report suggests that some of these borrowers do not deserve to be helped. Many of the vacant foreclosed homes popping up throughout the U.S. these days were bought by speculators who planned to "flip" their investments for a quick profit but got trapped with the market took a sudden down-turn. "Defaults are on the rise in most parts of the country, but it should be recognized that it is not always the case of a homeowner losing his or her home but is often the case of an investor gambling on a continued increase in home values and losing that gamble," said Doug Duncan, the MBA's chief economist. Many of these investors have "simply walked away from the mortgages," Duncan said.
This is the moral hazard regulators and bankers speak of. People don't want to bail out property speculators that are a large part of the foreclosure problem in the previously hot markets.