Experts predict a steady drumbeat of defaults over much of the next decade as these interest-only loans mature. Auctioned off at low prices, those foreclosed houses could help brake any revival in home prices.
Interest-only loans are not the only type of exotic mortgage hanging over the housing market. Another big problem is homeowners with “pay option” loans; in many of these loans, principal balances are actually increasing over time.
Still, interest-only loans represent an especially large problem. An analysis for The New York Times by the real estate information company First American CoreLogic shows there are 2.8 million active interest-only home loans worth a combined total of $908 billion.
The interest-only periods, which put off the principal payments for five, seven or 10 years, are now beginning to expire. In the next 12 months, $71 billion of interest-only loans will reset. The year after, another $100 billion will reset. After mid-2011, another $400 billion will reset.