Friday, September 5, 2008

Four Million Homeowners With Mortgage Problems

The Mortgage Bankers Association is reporting  that more than 4 million American homeowners with a mortgage - a record 9 percent - were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of June.
The latest quarterly figures broke records for late payments, homes entering the foreclosure process and for the inventory of loans in foreclosure. The trade group's records go back to 1979.

The percentage of loans at least one month past due or in foreclosure was up from 8.1 percent in the January-March quarter, and up from 6.5 percent a year ago, using figures that were not adjusted for seasonal factors.

New foreclosures rose from the first quarter in 35 states and Washington, D.C. The biggest increases were in Nevada, Florida, California, Arizona, Michigan, Rhode Island, Indiana and Ohio.New foreclosures actually declined in Texas, Massachusetts and Maryland. Both Maryland and Massachusetts recently passed laws to slow the foreclosure process and give borrowers more time to catch up on their payments.

Almost 500,000 homeowners, or about 1 percent, entered the foreclosure process in the second quarter.

But for the first time since the mortgage crisis started, delinquencies on subprime adjustable-rate loans declined. While more than one out of every five homeowners with a subprime ARM is still in default, that portion dipped 1 percentage point from the first quarter to 21 percent.

What's driving up the delinquency rate now is the number of homeowners with risky, adjustable-rate prime loans made with little or no proof of the borrowers' income or assets.

More than one out of 10 borrowers with a prime ARM is now delinquent or in foreclosure. That portion, 11.3 percent, was up from 9.7 percent in the first quarter, and is expected to rise as more homeowners see their monthly payments spike.

Many of these loans allowed the borrower to pay only the interest on the loan for a fixed period. Others gave the borrower the option to "pick-a-payment," adding any unpaid interest to the principal balance.

With home prices plummeting, particularly in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida, many borrowers with these exotic loans now owe more on their homes than they are worth.

Worse still, these loans reset to higher monthly payments when borrowers reach maximum debt limits - typically around 10 to 25 percent more than the original loan.

Those resets can increase the borrower's monthly payment by more than $1,000 a month on average, Fitch Ratings said in a report this week.

And nearly half of these pay-option loans are expected to reset to higher monthly payments by the end of 2010, Fitch said.

Source AP via NyPo

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