The Impact of Default

 

Greece’s sovereign debt was downgraded to CCC by Standard & Poor’s on Monday, making it the worst credit rating in Europe and the worst in the developed world. Yet, when it comes to credit downgrades and talks of default, the country the entire world is watching is right here, in the AAA rated never-missed-an-interest-payment US of A.

What impact would a US default have?

Some experts have predicted a major panic. Standard & Poor’s has made it clear that it would cut the US rating from AAA (the top) to D (the bottom). That would mean banks would technically be barred from using US debt as collateral with central banks (although these rules could be changed). As Gary Jenkins of Evolution Securities put it: “They wouldn’t dare, would they?” Even Bernanke has conceded that failure to lift the US debt ceiling would throw the financial system into tremendous disarray.

If Congress fails to balance the debt, the government would have to stop, limit, or delay payments on a broad range of legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, and interest on the national debt, which is paid to big, market maker banks like J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank, and others, not to mention the government of China, which is the largest holder of US government bonds overseas. Defaulting on those obligations, including coupon payments to bond holders, would cause severe hardship for the US economy. It would erode the historic legacy of the US as the safe harbor within the global financial system.

How has America been keeping afloat since May, when the debt ceiling was reached?

By stopping payments to certain federal pension schemes, and by liquidating some of the scheme’s assets. Treasury secretary Tim Geithner has pledged that the shortfall will be repaid once the ceiling is raised.

How urgent is the situation?

The US treasury estimates that funds will dry up on 2 August. However, the deadline is actually 22 July– to give time for legislation to be written and approved.

As a Mortgage Banker, I am counting on the next couple of weeks  to be very volatile with re pricing multiple times per day.  Now is an excellent time to get your applications in so your Mortgage Specialist can lock your loan at the perfect time.

 

 

National Home Value – A look back over the last 36 years

 

The housing market still faces many challenges. High unemployment, foreclosures
and other distress sales are keeping negative pressure on prices. This of course
is good news if you are looking to buy as low rates and lower prices have
brought affordability to record levels.

How Affordable?
Since 1963, it has cost an average of approximately 43% of ‘per
capita’ or individual income to finance the cost of a median priced home (20%
down payment and prevailing 30 year fixed rate mortgage). Right now, it’s only
about half of that cost at approximately 22%.

Are you holding off
on a purchase for fear that prices might fall further? –
Chances are
that some sellers might be thinking the same thing. If you’re smart about it,
you can use that as an advantage to strike the best possible deal on a home
today for once a seller believes that prices have bottomed or are going back up,
your advantage will be gone.

Don’t confuse Price with Payments
Gambling on the expectation of a lower price tomorrow at the risk of
higher rates can cost much more in the long run than locking in a sure thing
today. Ex. $200,000 30 Yr. fixed loan @ 4.625% = $1028/mo. today vs. $180,000 @
6.5% = $1137 per month later. In other words, paying less can still cost you
more.

Own, Rent, or Borrow – One way or another, a home
is something we all need every day. The numbers here tell the story and it’s no
secret that values have fallen, yet over time, that’s not the case. As you can
see by the chart, values over the last 10 years in most states show very healthy
appreciation. And over the long haul (map), all states have positive
appreciation.

We don’t get a history lesson in the news because
the news is about the moment and the more dramatic the better.
That’s
what sells advertising and that’s how they get paid. For the rest of us, taking
a rational, longer term view of things makes more sense. This is particularly
true when it comes to a home, for this is something we are likely to own for
many years rather than just moments.

How important is a credit score?

 

Before deciding on what terms lenders will offer you on a loan (which they base on the “risk” to them), they want to know two things about you: your ability to pay back the loan, and your willingness to pay back the loan. For the first, they look at your income-to-debt obligation ratio. For your willingness to pay back the loan, they consult your credit score.

 

 

 

The most widely used credit scores are FICO scores, which were developed by Fair Isaac & Company, Inc. (and they’re named after their inventor!). Your FICO score is between 350 (high risk) and 850 (low risk).

 

Credit scores only consider the information contained in your credit profile. They do not consider your income, savings, down payment amount, or demographic factors like gender, race, nationality or marital status. In fact, the fact they don’t consider demographic factors is why they were invented in the first place. “Profiling” was as dirty a word when FICO scores were invented as it is now. Credit scoring was developed as a way to consider only what was relevant to somebody’s willingness to repay a loan.

 

Past delinquencies, derogatory payment behavior, current debt level, length of credit history, types of credit and number of inquiries are all considered in credit scores. Your score considers both positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments will lower your score, but establishing or reestablishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your score.

 

Different portions of your credit history are given different weights. Thirty-five percent of your FICO score is based on your specific payment history. Thirty percent is your current level of indebtedness. Fifteen percent each is the time your open credit has been in use (ten year old accounts are good, six month old ones aren’t as good) and types of credit available to you (installment loans such as student loans, car loans, etc. versus revolving and debit accounts like credit cards). Finally, five percent is pursuit of new credit — credit scores requested.

 

Your credit report must contain at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This ensures that there is enough information in your report to generate an accurate score. If you do not meet the minimum criteria for getting a score, you may need to establish a credit history prior to applying for a mortgage.

To get a FREE Copy of your credit score, contact your Maine Mortgage Banker today.


 

U.S. jobless rate rises to 9.1%

Employers hired only 54,000 new workers in May, the fewest in eight months, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent. The Labor Department report offered startling evidence that the U.S. economy is slowing, hampered by high gas prices and natural disasters in Japan that have hurt U.S. manufacturers. The pace of hiring has weakened dramatically from the previous three months, when the economy added an average of 220,000 new jobs. Private companies hired only 83,000 new workers in May – the fewest in nearly a year.