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Friday, May 09, 2008

Sauce For The Goose

by Tanta on 5/09/2008 07:38:00 AM

Exhibit 1, Floyd Norris, NYT:

Now the mortgage company is warning that it may not be able to pay its bills, and has set out to force those who lent money to it to agree to accept only a fraction of what they are owed. It appears that its lenders have little real choice. If they insist on being paid all that they are owed, they will go to the back of the payment line, with the risk they will get nothing.

The mortgage industry has bitterly opposed legislative proposals that bankrupt homeowners be able to ask judges to reduce the amount they owe. But that is what this company hopes to accomplish through the threat of a bankruptcy filing. The lender in trouble is known as ResCap, short for Residential Capital. It is a subsidiary of GMAC, which was formerly owned by G.M. . . .

Owners of some notes issued by ResCap are being asked to trade them in for new bonds with face values of as little as 80 cents on the dollar. Other holders are being offered the chance to sell back bonds to the company, for as little as 65 cents on the dollar. GMAC has bought back some ResCap bonds in the public market, paying around 50 cents on the dollar. . . .

As part of the package, GMAC would put another $3.5 billion into ResCap. The company says that any current bondholders who reject the exchange offer would have their debt subordinated to the new loan from the GMAC parent, as well as to the new bonds being issued.
Exhibit 2, Ruth Simon, Wall Street Journal:
A major provision of the housing-market legislation passed by the House Thursday is getting a lukewarm reception from the mortgage industry. . . .

[T]rade groups that represent mortgage companies and investors say the provision might not help as many borrowers as some expect. They view the write-down provision as one of several options they might use to assist troubled homeowners. "I don't believe this would be a tool that would be used significantly," said Tom Deutsch, deputy executive director of the American Securitization Forum . . .

David Kittle, chairman-elect of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said at a conference earlier this week that he sees no rush by mortgage bankers to write down loans.

Mortgage companies that choose to participate in the proposed plan would be required to write down the value of a delinquent loan by 15% from the home's current appraised value. Borrowers would have to be at least 60 days late on their mortgage payments to qualify for the program. The bill excludes investors and those who lied about their income on their loan applications.

Mr. Deutsch says that in most cases, investors who hold mortgage-backed securities would be better off with other alternatives, such as temporarily reducing the borrower's interest rate or extending the term of the loan, in part because those leave open the chance that investors will get a larger return if the borrower gets back on track and home prices rebound. Mortgage companies are more likely to participate in the write-down program if they expect home prices to continue to decline steeply, he notes, increasing the chances of larger losses.

Thanks for the tip, NYT Junkie!