Home Foreclosures on the Rise
Posted on Mar 5, 2007
As interest rates continue to spiral out of control for many high-risk borrowers, the number of home foreclosures around the country is steadily going up. There isn’t much good news for the opportunistic lenders either—more than 20 mortgage companies have already gone bankrupt.
Across the nation, foreclosures and defaults are rising as mortgages that were once affordable are now expensive albatrosses as the introductory “teaser rates” that made the loan possible end and higher interest rates kick in. Some housing specialists worry that the mortgage industry—with more than 20 companies already in bankruptcy—will raise its lending standards so high that would-be homeowners with less-than-perfect credit will be frozen out. There is even some concern that the pullback in lending will extend the slump in the nation’s housing market.
“It’s the most serious threat to the economy,” says Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com. “It has the potential to set the housing market back another big notch, since there could be a whole class of people who can’t get credit.”
At issue is a class of mortgages that lenders call “subprime” because they do not qualify for the lowest or prime interest rate. These are designed for high-risk borrowers, those with fixed incomes, or those who have had credit problems in the past. Since 1998, more than 6 million Americans have borrowed in this way, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. The majority of these loans are adjustable-rate mortgages that are tied to changes in interest rates.