1. Mortgage companies starting around November 2007 stopped doing fixed second mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) due to changes going on in the mortgage industry. A lot of swift and sudden changes came to the type of companies that were farthest away from the actual money like the mortgage brokers, correspondent lenders, then the banks.
2. The banks are the one’s that set the guidelines for anybody who does business with them. Since a mortgage broker does not lend you the money (the bank does that the mortgage broker works with) they were told that they would not be honoring anymore fixed second mortgages or HELOC’s. This lead to a mad dash from all of the smaller companies to close these loans so they could sell them to the bank before the deadline or they would not be able to close.
3. What lead to this rush was a realization that the housing bubble had finally burst. Home owners now owed more than what their house was worth and property values were dropping quickly. Most people that took out a second mortgage did so for home improvements, credit card bills, weddings, etc. The majority of people rolled in a bunch of debts so they could have one mortgage payment that they could write stuff off on their taxes instead of a bunch of smaller payments. This usually saved them payments on their overall monthly payments but all this did was increase people’s appetite to spend more and use their home as an ATM.
4. Now the mortgage companies see the dip in home prices and most could do second mortgages up to 100% of the value of their home. Appraisals were coming in much lower now than even just six months before so they could not give them another second mortgage or even be able to roll a first and second mortgage into one. Mortgage companies look at the loan to value (LTV) of the house and if both combined to over 100% there was nothing they could do.
5. When home owners started defaulting on their home loans and went into foreclosure what happens is if there is a first and second mortgage on the property the company that has the first mortgage would get paid back first in the event of a short sale or auction. The mortgage company that holds the second lien position on the house would get whatever proceeds that were left over…if any. Many received none because there was no way that the house was going to sell for what the home appraised for when they did the loan.
6. With no money coming in to cover the foreclosures the banks just said they are no longer going to do second mortgages up to 95% or above of the homes value. Many large banks like Chase, Bank Of America, and Wells Fargo might still do them because they would hold onto the mortgage note and service it themselves. What these large companies did was shut off the companies that sold the mortgage notes to them, ie the mortgage brokers. What happens is all of the mortgage notes the mortgage broker would have closed on get sold to the larger bank (that actually funded the loan) in a bundle. The banks would accept the notes in one packet and start servicing the loan and collect your interest. The banks left a lot of trust to the mortgage brokers to do the right thing (and most did) but it meant that some mortgages could squeeze through without going over thoroughly. The banks decided it would be in their best interest to get rid of all the small companies selling them the second mortgages and do it all in house.
7. The banks do not know how much farther the real estate market is going to go down. Of course the National Realtors Association says that home prices are leveling off but you should not believe that for a second. Remember that Realtors work on commission and they want to reassure you that you are getting a good deal. If you are not in a rush to buy a home right now, try and wait until about June of 2009 before you start looking to buy. You will probably save another 8%-15% on the purchase price of the home.
8. The banks have realized that home prices have not leveled off yet so they are not in a rush to do the second mortgages yet. What would happen if they did is let’s say that they start doing second mortgages back up to 95% or 100% of the value of the home. People default on the loans and the home goes into foreclosure. The banks should know that the real estate market is probably going to drop another 5%-15% across the country until June 2009 or when home prices get back to what they were before 9/11 happened. So now the bank would be holding onto the note for a second mortgage on a home that is worth 5%-10% less than what it could be sold for. This would leave them with a 5%-10% loss on the money that they lent. Banks are not in business to lose money and this is a losing scenario.
9. The banks are now trying to fight back to all of the mortgage brokers and correspondent lenders (Correspondent lender is a lender that is big enough to fund the home loans but typically borrows from a line of credit they have with a larger bank like Countrywide and sells that bank the mortgage note. A great example of a correspondent lender is Quicken Loans. They do not keep any of the loans and sell them after closing to the larger bank for a quick profit and releasing themselves of the note and the responsibility of the property in case of foreclosure) to take these second mortgages back. It’s becoming a game of hot potato because nobody wants these second mortgages and the finger is being pointed everywhere.
10. Instead of doing second mortgages for every body the banks have decided to only let certain borrowers take out a HELOC. The qualifications have gone up and many banks now will only let you take a second mortgage up to 80% LTV and you need to have over 700 credit scores with no mortgage lates in the last 12 months. Many also make you open up a checking account with them and you have to have to your payments automatically withdrawn. This is a safer bet for the banks because now they can handle the down turn in the market for a little longer and not have to worry about losing out in case of foreclosure or anymore short sales. If you are in the market for a second mortgage or HELOC good luck finding one. You should start out with your local bank and then call up a big bank like Chase or Bank Of America to see what they can offer.