Mortgage trouble threatens as U.S. borrowers are reportedly missing payments on home equity lines of credit taken out during the housing bubble. The loans are a problem now because many are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually are required to start paying down the principal on top of the interest, they have been paying all along.
This trend could deal another blow to the country’s biggest banks, as more than $221 billion of these loans from Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, Citigroup Inc, and JPMorgan Chase & Co will hit this mark over the next four years. Approximately 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit are now outstanding. This shift could more than triple the average consumer’s monthly payment. Another problem, these loans usually carry floating interest rates.
For example, a consumer with a $30,000 home equity line of credit and an initial interest rate of 3.25 percent would see their required payment jumping to $293.16 from $81.25, analysts from Fitch Ratings calculate.
Banks aggressively marketed home equity lines of credit before the housing bubble burst. Big banks, including Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, Citigroup Inc, and JPMorgan Chase & Co have more than $10 billion of these home equity lines of credit on their books each, and in some cases more than that.
That is why the loans are starting to be problematic: For home equity lines of credit made in 2003, missed payments have already started increasing. A high percentage of home equity lines of credit went to people with poor credit — more than 16 percent of the home equity loans made in 2006, for example, went to people with credit scores below 659, seen by many banks as the dividing line between prime and subprime.
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