Monday, July 27, 2009

Option ARMs: Good News, Bad News

by Bill McBride on 7/27/2009 04:04:00 PM

The good news, according to a Barclays Capital report, is not as many Option ARMs will recast in 2011 as forecast earlier by Credit Suisse.

The bad news is borrowers are defaulting en masse before the recast.

From Bloomberg: Option ARM Defaults Shrink Size of Recast Wave, Barclays Says (ht Brian)

The wave of “option” adjustable- rate mortgages recasting to higher payments, projected by some economists to represent a looming source of foreclosures that will hurt housing markets over the next few years, will be smaller “than feared” because many borrowers will default before their bills change, Barclays Capital analysts said.
...
About 40 percent of borrowers with option ARMs are already delinquent, and “many” of the others will start missing payments before their obligations change, the Barclays mortgage- bond analysts wrote in a July 24 report. ...

“The additional risk really will only be for borrowers who manage to stay current over the next couple of years and might default due to a payment shock,” the New York-based analysts including Sandeep Bordian and Jasraj Vaidya wrote.
...
More than $750 billion of option ARMs were originated between 2004 and 2008 ...
Also some of the loans (mostly Wells Fargo) will probably recast later than the Credit Suisse chart.

Also on Option ARMs from the WSJ a couple weeks ago: Pick-a-Pay Loans: Worse Than Subprime

This suggests the recast related problems will happen sooner than the Credit Suisse chart suggests. That is good news in that the problems might not linger as long, and also suggests further price pressure in the short term for the mid-to-high end areas with significant Option ARM activity.

UPDATE on Wells Fargo Option ARM portfolio, from Q2 recorded comments (ht HealdsburgBubble):
The Pick-a-Pay portfolio also performed as expected as we continued to de-risk the portfolio. I want to highlight some key points that are important for every investor to understand about this portfolio:

First, not all option ARM portfolios are alike and we believe we have the best portfolio in the industry. While recently reported industry data, as of April 2009, indicates 37 percent of all industry option ARM loans are at least 60 days past due, our portfolio is performing significantly better with only 18 percent 60 days or more past due as of June 30. Not surprisingly, our non-impaired portfolio is performing significantly better than our impaired portfolio with only 4.7 percent 60 days or more past due. In fact, 92 percent of the non-impaired portfolio is current, compared with 62 percent of the impaired portfolio. In addition, while many other option ARM loans have recast periods as short as five years, our Pick-a-Pay loans generally have ten-year contractual recasts. As a result, we have virtually no loans where the terms recast over the next three years, allowing us more time to work with borrowers as they weather the current economic downturn.
emphasis added