Tags: FHA

Reverse Mortgages Spike 20% in 2013 as Baby Boomers Scramble for Cash

So what exactly is a reverse mortgage?

In a nutshell, it’s a specific type of home equity loan available only to people aged 62 and over, which has the added benefit of not carrying any interest payments and is only due upon death or once the homeowner is no longer using it as a primary residence. As you can see, this might be viewed as an attractive cash flow option for older Americans who didn’t save for retirement. That could be a lot of people, considering that Fidelity estimates 48% of baby boomers have not put away enough to retire.

While I have covered the various ways in which Americans are scraping by in the current feudal economy, from food stamps and disability fraud, to student loans and living in mom and pop’s basement, this reverse mortgage thing is a piece of the puzzle I have been missing.

These mortgages are not insignificant either. According to Inside Mortgage Finance, originations were up 20% in 2013, hitting $15.3 billion. So when you see that older guy working the cashier at Wal-Mart and wonder to yourself how he is surviving, the answer may increasingly be a reverse mortgage.

Oh, and since the FHA is originating many of these loans, you the taxpayer will be on the hook!

Let’s start out with some excerpts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s post: Frequently Asked Questions about HUD’s Reverse Mortgages.

The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is FHA’s reverse mortgage program, which enables you to withdraw some of the equity in your home.  The HECM is a safe plan that can give older Americans greater financial security. Many seniors use it to supplement Social Security, meet unexpected medical expenses, make home improvements and more.

1. What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your home into cash. The equity that you built up over years of making mortgage payments can be paid to you.  However, unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, HECM borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage.  You can also use a HECM to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the difference between the HECM proceeds and the sales price plus closing costs for the property you are purchasing.

5. What are the differences between a reverse mortgage and a home equity loan?

With a second mortgage, or a home equity line of credit, borrowers must make monthly payments on the principal and interest.  A reverse mortgage is different, because it pays you – there are no monthly principal and interest payments.  With a reverse mortgage, you are required to pay real estate taxes, utilities, and hazard and flood insurance premiums.

See there really is a magic money tree. Thanks FHA!

6. Will we have an estate that we can leave to heirs?

When the home is sold or no longer used as a primary residence, the cash, interest, and other HECM finance charges must be repaid.  All proceeds beyond the amount owed belong to your spouse or estate.  This means any remaining equity can be transferred to heirs.  No debt is passed along to the estate or heirs.

Moving along, we learn from the New York Post that:

Cash-strapped baby boomers, taking the TV advice of the Fonz and former US Sen. Fred Thompson, have opted for reverse mortgages in increasing numbers.

Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication covering the housing industry, said borrowers took out some $15.3 billion of these loans last year, an increase of 20 percent over 2012.

Reverse mortgages, which let homeowners age 62 and up borrow money against the value of their homes, have become a popular way for boomers without significant assets to fund retirement.

Is this something you’d expect to see five years into a genuine economic recovery, or it is a reaction to a ponzi consumption based economy plagued with zero income growth?

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Subprime Mortgages are Back…This Time Marketed as “Second Chance Purchase Programs”

With interest rates up sharply from the lows and Blackstone and other private equity firms holding billions of dollars with of properties with no one to sell to, the time is ripe for a little muppet fleecing. Leading the charge to find new tax-payer backed subprime loans to take some properties off the hands of Mr. Schwarzman is none other than Wells Fargo. I previously forecasted this in my piece: Stage Two of the Housing Bubble Begins: Blackstone to Lend to Others for “Buy to Rent.”

They aren’t the only ones though. Citadel Servicing Corp, the country’s biggest subprime lender, is also getting in the action. The best and worst part of this story is the way these new loans are being marketed. Specifically, as “Low Credit Score Debt Consolidation Program” as well as a “Second Chance Purchase Program.”

This Central Bankster game isn’t complicated. Provide access to cheap funds to financial cronies, pump the bubble, fleece the serfs. Rinse. Repeat.

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, is tiptoeing back into subprime home loans again.

The bank is looking for opportunities to stem its revenue decline as overall mortgage lending volume plunges. It believes it has worked through enough of its crisis-era mortgage problems, particularly with U.S. home loan agencies, to be comfortable extending credit to some borrowers with higher credit risks.

So far few other big banks seem poised to follow Wells Fargo’s lead, but some smaller companies outside the banking system, such as Citadel Servicing Corp, are already ramping up their subprime lending. To avoid the taint associated with the word “subprime,” lenders are calling their loans “another chance mortgages” or “alternative mortgage programs.”

It is looking at customers with credit scores as low as 600. Its prior limit was 640, which is often seen as the cutoff point between prime and subprime borrowers. U.S. credit scores range from 300 to 850.

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Blackstone’s Head of Private Equity: “We Are in the Middle of an Epic Credit Bubble”

We are in the middle of an epic credit bubble, in my opinion, the likes of which I haven’t seen in my career in private equity.

– Joseph Baratta, Global Head of Private Equity at the Blackstone Group

According to CNBC, the above statement was made this past Thursday at the Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst Conference in New York City. While I certainly can’t disagree with his sentiments, I do find it a bit bizarre coming from someone so high up at Blackstone. More than any other firm, Blackstone has been aggresively buying up real estate all over the U.S. in all cash bids, playing a huge role in inflating another housing bubble. A bubble in which the average citizenry is being outbid by Blackstone and other private equity firms, and then in turn is forced to rent housing from Wall Street. Not only that, remember I highlighted back in July that Blackstone “is preparing to expand its bet on the housing recovery by lending to other landlords.” 

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A Tale of Two Subprime: Homes and Autos

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The above passage is the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ classic novel about the French Revolutionary period, A Tale of Two Cities. I read the book back in tenth grade and it has stuck with me ever since. It wasn’t required reading for the class, rather it was the outgrowth of an assignment where each student had to independently choose a book to read. I had no idea what to pick so I went into the local book store and looked around. Charles Dickens was calling out at me from the shelves and I immediately purchased it. I quickly regretted my decision upon calling my best friend and learning that he had chosen his book, The Scarlet Letter based on its brevity. A Tale of Two Cities looked biblical by comparison.

All of my immature trepidation quickly dissipated as I started reading the novel and discovered that I simply couldn’t put it down. I was mentally and emotionally infected by the characters, the history, and the hard lessons learned. It created an indelible impression upon me that has never gone away.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we find ourselves in pre-revolutionary times at the moment. This doesn’t mean I predict violent upheavals everywhere followed by chaos and bloodshed, it means that the current paradigm is no longer sustainable because it is not longer working. More and more people now recognize this.

In case you needed anymore insight into the complete and total insanity of the “elite” Central Planners driving the U.S. economy off a cliff, I have decided to highlight a couple of articles explaining the rapid reflation of two important subprime markets: Homes and Autos. Clearly the only lesson learned from the 2008 crisis was that connected oligarchs can steal all they want with total impunity. There’s only one way this ends. With a complete and total collapse and then a massive paradigm shift. I’m quite hopeful our next system can be far better than this one. I predict it will be centered on decentralization, peer to peer interaction, the rule of law and competing free market currencies, but only time will tell. It’s really up to us.

First, here are some excerpts from a recent Bloomberg article on the resurgence of subprime auto loans (a topic I covered before regarding 97 month loans):

Subprime auto lenders are enabling buyers to borrow more relative to the cost of a car in a sign that underwriting standards are deteriorating amid increased competition, according to Standard & Poor’s.

The average loan-to-value ratio, or LTV, on vehicle sales to consumers with spotty credit has risen to 114.5 percent this year from about 112 percent in 2010, S&P said in a report yesterday. That compares with a peak of 121 percent in 2008, according to the New York-based rating company.

“We’re expecting continued weakening in credit standards as more players vie for a piece of the subprime auto loan market and others try to hold on to market share,” wrote the analysts led by Amy Martin.

The segment has boomed since 2010 as high margins and low funding costs attract private-equity firms such as Blackstone Group LP. After drying up during the credit crisis, originations of car loans to borrowers with bad credit have almost doubled since the fourth quarter of 2009 to reach $18.4 billion during the same period in 2012, Citigroup Inc. analysts led by Mary Kane in New York said in a Sept. 6 report.

I suppose becoming a real estate slumlord wasn’t good enough for the boys at Blackstone.

The increase in subprime originations is fueling growth in the asset-backed bond market, with sales of securities linked to the debt surging 24.4 percent to $14.7 billion through August compared with the same period in 2012, according to Deutsche Bank AG data.

Now let’s turn our attention over to Neil Weinberg, Editor in Chief at American Banker for some excerpts from his article: Who’s Pushing Subprime Mortgages? Uncle Sam. Here are some excerpts:

Complying with a mass of new regulation to make sure every loan is sound and defect-free is only part of what the government expects of mortgage lenders. It also wants them to chuck these standards of care out the window to lend to what it deems as disadvantaged borrowers. 

Specifically, the government is enforcing with great vigor a range of so-called fair lending provisions. The gist is that lenders are to ignore all the talk about fat down payments, ensuring borrowers’ ability to repay and the like when it comes to fair lending applicants.

The Federal Housing Administration recently went so far as to cut to one year from three how long borrowers must wait after losing a home to foreclosure or a short sale before qualifying for a new mortgage.

One Phoenix conference speaker expressed shock that Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, which runs the FHA, has referred to these low down-payment mortgages to recently failed borrowers as “plain vanilla” loans that can be made safely.

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It Never Ends: Top Obama Housing Advisor Jumps Ship to Wells Fargo

No one should be surprised by this, particularly since Wells Fargo is the favored financial vehicle for America’s top crony capitalist – Warren “I’m just like you because I drink cherry coke and eat hamburgers” Buffett.  The person in question in the latest payoff revolving door move is Bob Ryan who is currently a senior advisor to Shaun Donovan, the secretary for Housing and Urban Development.  From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Ryan is currently a senior advisor to Shaun Donovan, the secretary for Housing and Urban Development. He joined HUD in 2009 as the first ever chief risk officer at the Federal Housing Administration and served briefly last year as the agency’s acting FHA commissioner. He previously spent 26 years at Freddie Mac.

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