Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Backdoor Bailout

There are only so much loss that can be sustained. Then a breaking point is reached. Depending on the depth of the loss some organizations can rebound - but others just fold. With a high level of risky mortgages being dumped on the FHA sound like trouble is coming. The burden will be shifted onto to the taxpayers. This article from Forbes titled Lending over backwards illustrates how potentially costly the issue may be. Lets take a look -

Heralded as a savior in reversing the mortgage market’s woes, risks to the agency could cost taxpayers dearly, says one mortgage expert, as Washington morphs the FHA from a helping hand for low-income home buyers into a back door bailout for the imploding mortgage industry. Trouble is, there's little choice at this point.

“Nobody is talking is talking about it, but in three years the FHA bailout is going to cost taxpayers at least $100 billion dollars,” said Guy Cecala, a mortgage industry insider and publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “Everybody on Capital Hill recognizes that there will be significant costs, but they’re trying to keep the housing spigot open even if it will bring in some bad water down the road.”

Even in this sinking market, borrowers only need to put 3% down to qualify for FHA backing, and borrowers currently unable to pay their adjustable-rate mortgages after the rates reset are allowed to refinance into FHA-backed mortgages.


With U.S. home prices down 10% in the last 12 months and expected to fall perhaps 10% more in the coming year, the vast majority of homes the FHA insures in 2008 will be underwater. Requiring only a small down payment in a declining market is extremely risky because negative home equity has proved the best indicator for default in this housing cycle.

“If it costs upwards of $500 billion down the road, should it not be done?” asks Cecala. “If it keeps the market running and FHA becomes the lender of last resort, policymakers really don't have an alternative.”

The bind is that the government wants people out there buying houses. So even though with only 3% down lenders know it is almost a sure bet that the house will be underwater after the purchase the system will not change. The gamble appears to be propping up the housing issues now while hoping that things get better in the future. This can be done by still trying to create the largest possible pool of homebuyers - and 3% down allows alot more new buyers. But how many of these 3% downers will need a bailout in a few years? This is a combination of bailing out the current homeowners by propping up the market.


the bruiser said...

Don't fix anything, just kick the can down the road a little further. This housing disaster will still be an issue in the 2012 election.

NJHH said...

Wonder how long things can keep getting pushed off to the future. I agree that 2012 the problems will still linger.

There will be another issue to contend with - all those people that can not buy a house in the near future due to the huge wave of foreclosures. This group will be collectively screaming that the system does not work.