If all real estate is local, it's also true that what's ailing the market can sometimes spread from one area to the next. That seems to be the case with home foreclosures and the role of two particular kinds of alternative mortgages, which have yet to achieve the villain status of the subprime market.
Earlier this week, Diana Olick wrote about the fact that despite continued increases in foreclosures, many analysts are describing the rate of increase as "moderating" (see story here). Unfortunately, this might just be another calm before the storm gets worse. With increased job losses and higher costs, defaults will continue to rise. Home builders, Hovnanian and Toll Brothers reported more losses this quarter and Toll forecast lower revenues in the quarter ahead. Also looming is the next wave of loan recasts.
Last year, everyone was worried that the resets on subprime loans would force borrowers into higher interest rates and payments. This element of the housing slide and credit crunch has subsided a bit. Akiva Dickstein, Managing Director of Fixed Income Research at Merrill Lynch explained, "Subprime and ARMs have become less of a problem recently because short rates have come down so much. If the Fed decides to raise rates the issue will return. However, even without reset difficulties, subprime and Alt-A loans are slipping into default at very high rates. The concern about future resets has given way to concern about borrowers equity erosion."