Monday, July 16, 2012

The Next Big Threat to Home Owners Looms

While the housing market is showing signs of picking up across the country, housing experts warn of a new concern for home owners: resetting home equity lines of credit.
Home equity lines of credit often require low payments in the initial years as home owners only pay the interest on these loans at the onset. But later on, these loans reset with higher payments when home owners have to start paying down the principal.
About 44 percent of home owners with home equity lines of credit through Wells Fargo have paid only the minimum amount due on these loans, reports The New York Times.
Many borrowers may soon see their home equity lines of credit reset with higher payments and those higher payments may be too much for some borrowers.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently warned of the danger these resetting payments could pose for many home owners across the country. The OCC warned that nearly 60 percent of all home equity line balances would require payments of both principal and interest between 2014 and 2017.
The report highlights three main threats home equity borrowers face: Rising payments as they begin to pay back the principal and not just the interest on these loans; the risk of rising interest rates (many of these loans have adjustable rates); and refinancing challenges “because collateral values have declined significantly since these loans originated.”
Many of the home owners have seen their property values decrease since they first took out the home equity loans.
“These are among the riskiest loans in any bank’s portfolio,” The New York Times reports. “As borrowers are pressed to pay principal and interest, write-offs are almost certain to rise.”
Source: “Here Comes the Catch in Home Equity Loans,” The New York Times (July 14, 2012)

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