Thursday, January 29, 2009

WSJ: Option ARM Defaults Rising

by Calculated Risk on 1/29/2009 09:17:00 PM

From Ruth Simon at the WSJ: Option ARMs See Rising Defaults (hat tip ShortCourage)

Nearly $750 billion of option adjustable-rate mortgages, or option ARMs, were issued from 2004 to 2007, according to Inside Mortgage Finance ... Rising delinquencies are creating fresh challenges for companies such as Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. that acquired troubled option-ARM lenders.
...
As of December, 28% of option ARMs were delinquent or in foreclosure, according to LPS Applied Analytics ... An additional 7% involve properties that have already been taken back by the lenders. ... Just over half of subprime loans were delinquent, in foreclosure, or related to bank-owned properties as of December. The nearly $750 billion of option ARMs issued from 2004 to 2007 compares with roughly $1.9 trillion each of subprime and jumbo mortgages in that period.

Nearly 61% of option ARMs originated in 2007 will eventually default, according to a recent analysis by Goldman Sachs ...
If 61% of the $750 billion in Option ARMs default, and with a 50% loss severity, the losses to lenders will be about $225 billion - far less than for subprime, but still a huge problem.

The key problem with Option ARMs is that they were used as affordability products, mostly in California and Florida, because buyers couldn't qualify for fixed rate mortgages or even regular ARMs. It should have been no surprise that most borrowers chose the negatively amortizing option; it was the only one they could afford!