Bells are ringing! I am finally worthless! With my paycheck today my net worth has finally passed the literal and psychological $0 barrier. My financial leverage given a net worth of $1 is about 45,000-to-1. Let this be a lesson to everybody: massively over-leveraged financial positions can only end positively. Look at Long-Term Capital Management, MF Global, Bear Stearns and AIG: their executives still managed to escape with millions of dollars!
A few months back we talked about the impending problems with the FHA reserve fund – namely, 417:1 leverage on their lending portfolio. Now, with the Post Office threatening to steal the federal bailout show, let’s look at this issue from a different angle – namely, from the perspective of the borrower.
It has been mentioned here and elsewhere that the mortgage interest deduction in the tax code is a roundabout way of subsidizing banks. If interest rates are determined by supply and demand then the demand for interest rates is only dependent on what a taxpayer’s “effective interest expense is”. A new study suggests that most of the benefits fall into the hands of lenders.
Here’s something interesting: even though there is a massive push to limit leverage in financial instruments controlled by private parties, Congress allows politically connected entities to drink from a different punch bowl. Today’s example of poor risk control? The FHA, better known as the Federal Housing Administration. Congress mandates that the FHA maintains at least 2% of their outstanding liabilities (they insure home mortgages) in the form of cash reserves. For those keeping score at home, that’s an implied leverage of 50:1. Fifty to one would be bad enough – but FHA’s reserves actually sit at just .24% of their $1.1 Trillion in insured mortgages.
We have dealt a lot recently with historically low interest rates and their implications on not only the cost of housing and mortgages, but also implications for consumer credit and inflation. Although we have explained home price affordability in the San Francisco Bay Area before, we haven’t discussed the large variance in regional real estate prices.
As we occasionally point out here at Don’t Quit Your Day Job, inflation expectations are an interesting indicator that can be calculated from market data. They become even more interesting when we combine them with other measures. It becomes yet more interesting if you are in the market to refinance a mortgage or purchase a home. Read on for an interactive chart on the 30 year mortgage and the market’s 10-year inflation expectations.
A couple of weeks back, we here at DQYDJ tried to get some Bay Area street cred with our screed on how Bay Area house prices make more sense than one might think (please read that article if you are genuinely interested in our model). After being informed by the readers on the Bay Area home site Burbed that our definition of the Inner Bay Area (the ‘Real Bay Area’) was too large, we’re back for another pass. Thanks to Burbed’s super-intelligent head editor Madhaus and a huge amount of comments we’re back with two calculators we’re titling “The Burbed and DQYDJ Real Bay Area Calculators!”. Since all Bay Areans hope for 7.2% annual home value returns (check it – doubling every ten years!), we hope everyone will enjoy this little demonstration of the absurd amounts of wealth that the place we call home generates.
There is a mortgage strategy variously described in different corners of the internet where a mortgage is refinanced… and payments stay steady. For this strategy, a borrower is currently paying some monthly payment, and will continue to pay the exact same monthly payment after their mortgage is refinanced. The benefits are usually explained as an acceleration of mortgage payments and a “guaranteed investment return”. You may find yourself in a situation where you are considering this form of accelerated mortgage payments. Is it worth it? Let’s run the numbers and find out!
Conceptually, it’s easy to grasp why and when you should refinance your mortgage. In practice, inertia is the main reason people hold back from refinancing. With that in mind, we present these mortgage calculator which will allow you to see how your current mortgage will compare with the mortgage you are considering. Perhaps if the math is enticing, you’ll shop around? Enjoy!
The San Francisco Bay Area, generally agreed to include the nine California counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma, is one of the wealthiest regions in the United States. From its powerhouse engineering and business schools to the Venture Capital firms in Menlo Park and Palo Alto; from the financial buildings in San Francisco to the tech firms in Silicon Valley, the region has an immense capacity for generating wealth (and a history of massive booms and devastating busts).
There is a part of the Bay Area, which I’ll call the Inner Bay (although I know it is sometimes called the “Real Bay Area”) which has an especially concentrated amount of wealth. That wealth is reflected in home prices which are among the top in the nation. In the Inner Bay, consisting of Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara County, it’s not unheard of for houses around 1,000 square feet to sell for close to a million dollars (or more, in places like Atherton, Saratoga, Los Altos and Palo Alto).