Home About Archives RSS Feed

The Retired Investor: Interest-Only mortgages Risky In Rising Rate Environment.

By Bill SchmickiBerkshires columnist
Over the past decade, as interest rates declined, some home buyers gravitated towards interest-only loans. However, times are changing, and borrowers should be careful in considering this kind of mortgage loan.
 
During the past two years, many financial lenders have tightened credit standards across most loan types. The combination of the coronavirus pandemic, supply shortages, inflation and the impact of the Ukraine war has created a drag on the U.S. economy. A slowing economy increases the risks of lending, thus tighter standards emerge.
 
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises that back most mortgages exclude interest-only mortgages. And while standards have been raised since the 2007 subprime collapse for these kinds of loans, there is a perception that standards may be more relaxed than conventional loans. Lenders, for the most part, keep these mortgages in their own portfolio or sell them to institutional investors.
 
An interest-only mortgage is one in which you initially only pay the interest on the loan for an allotted period, usually five, seven or ten years. As a result, your monthly payments are cheaper, since you are not repaying principal (the total amount borrowed). However, once that initial period concludes, you will still owe the same amount on the mortgages as you originally borrowed. Typically, these loans charge higher interest rates than conventional mortgages.
 
Interest-only loans are popular right now in this booming real estate market. One mistake would be to take out such a loan simply to qualify for a home you otherwise couldn't afford. Others believe they can afford larger homes with steeper asking prices because their monthly payments could be lower by several hundred dollars a month. 
 
Another mistake is to dismiss future risk by arguing that by the time the interest-only period expires, interest rates will have fallen further, or they will be making enough income to afford future payments, whatever they may be. It would be better to take a worst-case scenario and see if you can live with it.
 
Let's say you had a 30-year, fixed interest-only mortgage that you entered in 2012. Your initial interest-only period was ten years. That time is now up. What happens? You still have the entire principal to repay, only now you have only 20 years to do so. That means your monthly payments will rise simply because of the math. By exactly how much should also be of concern.  
 
Payment terms for the remainder of the loan may vary, but your new interest rate is usually determined by whatever the prevailing rate is at the time. Some loans are capped, so that the new interest rate you will be charged can be increased by no more than 2 percent. Other loans may not have a cap. In a rising rate environment that can spell disaster for borrowers.
 
In addition, remember your monthly payments now include principal repayments, plus a higher rate of interest and a shorter time period to repay the entire mortgage. This can mean your new monthly payment could cost you 2-3 times what you had been paying during the first ten years of your loan, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
 
Ask yourself what would happen if mortgage interest rates, which hit a 30-year low last year, continue to rise over the next decade? There is a real risk that rates could rise to a point that the added costs to borrowers could present a default risk.
 
Granted, if payments become that expensive, there is always a chance that the loan could be refinanced, or the length of the loan might be extended, but at what cost? My advice is taking the necessary time and effort to analyze whether an interest-only mortgage is right for you or just a tempting alternative that fails to make economic sense in the long term.  
 

Bill Schmick is the founding partner of Onota Partners, Inc., in the Berkshires. His forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of Onota Partners Inc. (OPI). None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-413-347-2401 or email him at bill@schmicksretiredinvestor.com.

Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of OPI, Inc. or a solicitation to become a client of OPI. The reader should not assume that any strategies or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold, or held by OPI. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct.

 

0 Comments
     

Support Local News

We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.

How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.

News Headlines
Letter: Playing Ukraine National Anthem at Tanglewood on Parade Was Bad Idea
Letter: Andrea Harrington for DA
Letter: Political Bias
Conservative State Candidates Pitch Campaigns in Pittsfield
When Can You Choose Retirement?
RSVP Visitor Center Opens in Pittsfield
Sheriff Candidates Discuss Incarcerated Women, Operations in Debate
Pittsfield Police Seeking Greylock Federal Robber
'Flash' Actor Charged With Stealing Neighbor's Booze
Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13s Celebrated on Path to World Series
 
 


Categories:
@theMarket (417)
Independent Investor (451)
Retired Investor (102)
Archives:
July 2022 (7)
June 2022 (7)
May 2022 (7)
April 2022 (8)
March 2022 (9)
February 2022 (7)
January 2022 (7)
December 2021 (9)
November 2021 (7)
October 2021 (8)
September 2021 (9)
August 2021 (4)
Tags:
Rally Euro Greece Bailout Selloff Election Recession Jobs Commodities Stocks Employment Pullback Currency Markets Congress Stock Market Crisis Europe Debt Fiscal Cliff Interest Rates Deficit Retirement Oil Debt Ceiling Stimulus Federal Reserve Economy Metals Japan Banking Banks Europe Energy Taxes
Popular Entries:
The Independent Investor: Don't Fight the Fed
Independent Investor: Europe's Banking Crisis
@theMarket: Let the Good Times Roll
Independent Investor: Enough Already!
@theMarket: Let Silver Be A Lesson
The Independent Investor: Japan — The Sun Is Beginning to Rise
Independent Investor: What To Expect After a Waterfall Decline
@theMarket: One Down, One to Go
@theMarket: 707 Days
The Independent Investor: And Now For That Deficit
Recent Entries:
@theMarket: Fed-fueled Gains Support Markets
The Retired Investor: No End in Sight for Airline Agony
The Retired Investor: Local Gas Stations Suffer From High Fuel Prices
@theMarket: Market Beat Down
The Retired Investor: Public Sector Can't Compete in Tight Labor Market
@theMarket: More Market Gains Ahead, But for How Long?
The Retired Investor: China Tariffs on Deck
The Retired Investor: Streaming Comes of Age
@theMarket: Recession: 'Certainly a Possibility'
The Retired Investor: Stock Market & Midterm Elections