Trouble Ahead on Home Equity Loans?

Mortgage delinquencies are on the rise for home equity lines of credit that were taken out during the housing bubble and others reaching the 10-year mark, Equifax data shows.

In most cases, after these loans hit the 10-year mark, borrowers must start paying not only the interest but also the principal on these loans. For many, that could mean their monthly payments could more than triple. For example, a consumer with a $30,000 home equity line of credit with a 3.25 percent initial interest rate could see their monthly payments go from $81.25 to $293.16, according to Fitch Ratings analysts.

The number of home owners missing their payments is growing, Equifax reports. Amy Crews Cutts, the chief economist of Equifax, has called the pending increase in payments on home equity lines as a “wave of disaster.”

“More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding,” Reuters reports. The delinquencies will mean banks stand to lose 90 cents on the dollar?

Analysts say that home owners who are facing a big jump in their payments may be able to refinance their main mortgage and home equity lines of credit into a new, single fixed-rate loan. Or some borrowers may find that selling their home and taking advantage of rising home prices is another way to repay their loan, analysts note.

Source: “Insight: A new wave of U.S. mortgage trouble threatens,” Reuters (Nov. 26, 2013)