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Monday, November 26, 2007

Upside Down in America

by Calculated Risk on 11/26/2007 04:07:00 PM

The Irvine Housing blog brings us these details (hat tip Atrios):

Asking Price: $1,249,000

Purchase Price: $1,157,000

Purchase Date: 1/6/2005
According to the Irvine Housing blog:
The property was purchased in January 2005 for $1,157,000. The combined first and second mortgages totalled $1,156,730 leaving a downpayment of $270. Let’s just call it 100% financing.

By April, they owners were able to find refinancing through Countrywide with a $999,999 first mortgage. This mortgage was an Option ARM with a 1% teaser rate. The minimum payment would be $3,216 per month.

Also in April of 2005, they took out a simultaneous second mortgage for $215,000 pulling out their first $58,000.

So look at their situation: They are living in a million dollar plus home in Turtle Ridge making payments less than those renting, and they “made” $58,000 in their first 4 months of ownership.

Apparently, these owners liked how hard their house was working for them, so they opened a revolving line of credit (HELOC) in August 2005 for $293,000. Did they spend it all? I can’t be sure, but the following certainly suggests they did.

In December of 2005, they extended their HELOC to $397,990.

In June of 2006, they extended their HELOC to $485,000.

In April of 2007, the well ran dry as they did their final HELOC of $491,000. I bet they were pissed when they couldn’t get more money.

So by April 2007, they have a first mortgage (Option ARM with a 1% teaser rate) for $999,999, and a HELOC for $491,000. These owners pulled $333,000 in HELOC money to fuel consumer spending.

Assuming they spent the entire HELOC (does anyone think they didn’t?), and assuming the negative amortization on the first mortgage has increased the loan balance, the total debt on the property exceeds $1,500,000. The asking price of $1,249,000 does not look like a rollback, but if the property actually sells at this price, the lender on the HELOC (Washington Mutual) will lose over $300,000.

These owners will probably just walk away. I doubt they have any assets. They never put any money into the deal, they pulled out $333,000 in cash, and they got to live in Turtle Ridge for 3 years. Not a bad deal — for them.
This story has been repeated all across America (usually on a smaller scale). This was not a subprime loan when the home was first purchased, but the collateral is now less than the total loan amount. The house hasn't sold yet, so perhaps the $999,999 Option ARM first is also impaired.

And look at the Mortgage Equity Withdrawal (MEW). One third of a million dollars, or over $100K per year. Perhaps the money was invested. Perhaps it was spent on new cars, flat screen TVs, vacations, or more - but this Home ATM appears out of money, and I suspect that will impact the homeowners' lifestyle.

This illustrates two important points: We are all subprime now, and, with falling house prices, the Home ATM is running dry.