Tiger Takes Out a Mortgage for New Mansion

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods

Talk about taking advantage of those low low rates on the 30-year fixed!

I don't have it on my authority, but it is being reported widely and wildly that newly divorced Tiger Woods took out a $54.5 million mortgage on his Jupiter Island, Florida estate where he is currently building a mansion. He reportedly bought the land (three parcels) for around $44 million in cash before all his marital issues. Listing himself as a "single man" in documents obtained by TMZ, it's a 15-year; don't know if it's fixed or adjustable rate. The estate will supposedly include several pools, a fitness center, and an "oxygen therapy" room; that last one of course coming in handy for anyone who takes out that sized loan in today's housing market.

Just for Tiger's information, Florida has the third highest foreclosure rate in the nation, according to RealtyTrac. One in 171 homes there received some kind of foreclosure filing in July.

Okay, let's talk some basics now. First, what kind of rate does one get on a clearly non-conforming, hyper-jumbo loan? What are the underwriting criteria? And why would someone as filthy rich as Tiger, even after paying out his hefty divorce settlement, need a mortgage?

I turn, as often, to the expert:

"Hard to say on the rate. Just don’t have a good read on what a superjumbo loan that may or may not be a principal residence would cost," admits Greg McBride over at Bankrate.com. Tiger, by the way, has also just put down some roots in Manhattan, and was reportedly seen in a trendy downtown neighborhood this week. "Also requires assumptions as to down payment, income documentation, type of loan."

"Tiger is borrowing the money for free." -Bankrate.com, Greg McBride

But McBride did some math for me anyway:

A 15-year fixed at 5 percent would be $430,982 per month. As for underwriting, that's just too fun to imagine.

"Why take out a mortgage? That’s the easy part," says McBride. "A rate of even 5.5 percent would only cost 3.3 percent on an after tax basis (assuming the top federal tax bracket of 39.6 percent that will take effect in 2011 if the Bush tax cuts are not extended.). Factor in an inflation rate that over time averages 3%, and on an after-tax, after-inflation basis Tiger is borrowing the money for free (as are many other borrowers taking out loans in today’s marketplace)."

And there you have it.

Not only is the Federal Government paying much of America to stay in their homes and paying the banks to keep them there, we taxpayers are also footing the bill for Tiger Woods' new mansion.

You're welcome, Tiger.

Correction: As many of you readers have already pointed out, the mortgage interest deduction is capped at $1 million, so taxpayers aren't really paying for Tiger's house.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com