“Some interesting comments from our banker this morning. My wife and I were in the bank switching our variable rate mortgage to one of the low fixed rate mortgages the banks began offering last week. (The switch is a bit of a gamble, but not one with a lot of downside risk.) Our banker said that because we have a good credit rating, we could also apply to have our HELOC credit limit raised and we’d be approved. But as of two weeks ago, customers with a ‘C’ rating, if they want a raised limit, must have their house reappraised, at their expense, and also provide a proof-of-income letter from their employer. I asked if this was because the bank was getting worried about house prices. Our banker said, “Yes. They’re wondering what might happen if prices go down 20 or 30 percent.” She then went on to say that my wife and I are among the few clients who have been significantly paying down the principal on their mortgage. A number of her clients have been “bumping up,” and she feels some of them could be caught if the market drops.”
“Interesting on several levels. The bank quietly enacting some defensive measures. Clients with good credit and steadily shrinking mortgage balances — i.e., ‘safer’ — invited to increase their credit limit. 20 or 30 percent – her numbers, the ones that I assume are circulating in the bank at the moment. Plenty of people still increasing their debt, fiddling while elsewhere Rome burns, assuming the flames will never reach them, or not even aware there’s a fire. As for credit rating, apparently all it takes to get on the bank’s shit list is a couple of missed credit card payments.”
– from Froogle Scott, via e-mail to vreaa, 24 Jan 2012
Interesting. Many thanks for the story, Froogle.
If prices do fall 30%, what’s to stop them falling 50%?
Do we expect there to be buyers stepping in at 30%-off levels given what such a fall is likely to do to wages, the economy, lending criteria, and sentiment? We will have lost all momentum buyers, of course. And would we expect value buyers to step in when prices, albeit lower, would still be significantly overvalued by fundamental measures?
PS: All Froogle Scott fans will be pleased to hear that he is, in his characteristic painstakingly thorough fashion, putting together an analysis of the actual cost of home ownership. He plans to share this with us soon. We eagerly await it.