The credit quality of U.S. mortgages is set to weaken substantially through the remainder of 2007 and well into next year, with delinquencies peaking in mid-2008, Moody’s Economy.com said on Thursday.
Delinquencies will peak at 3.6 percent of all mortgage debt outstanding in the summer of 2008, up from 2.9 percent in this year’s first quarter, according to the study by the consulting firm based in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“This will result in substantial financial damage,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com, said during a teleconference after the release of the study.
Subprime, “Alt-A”, jumbo interest-only and option adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, account for about 25 percent of all mortgage debt outstanding, or around $2.5 trillion. Of that amount, approximately $1.4 trillion is at serious risk of default, he said.
Of those mortgages, about $460 billion should actually end up defaulting some time this year or in 2008 and of that, $113 billion will be a loss to investors after recovery efforts are made, said Zandi.
That’s more pessimistic than Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who last week estimated losses between $50 and $100 billion.
The deterioration of mortgage credit quality can partly be blamed on falling U.S. house price prices, with all parts of the housing market experiencing declines. The high-end of the market, however, is holding up a bit better than the middle- and low-end, said Zandi.
The erosion of mortgage credit quality will also be due to the fact that many borrowers will soon be facing measurably higher mortgage payments. October will be the peak reset month when about $50 billion worth of mortgages will be adjusted to reflect higher interest rates, he said.
“As the resetting mounts, that will put significant financial pressure on many of the subprime borrowers and this pressure is already very intense,” he said.