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Help if you don't need it

Help if you don't need it

Update: 2021-02-10
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On today’s show we’re going to be talking about a proverb that you’ve probably heard you parents, or maybe your grandparents say. There are several different versions of it. But it goes something like this.


They will only help you if you don’t need it.


Strangely, banks have more cash on hand than ever. Consumers have been using stimulus checks to pay down credit card balances. The new loans from the SBA disappear from bank balance sheets once they’re forgiven. The residential mortgages that have been written in the past year, a record year for originations and refinance activity are usually securitized and sold into the secondary bond market.


Businesses are not borrowing to expand. They’re accessing lines of credit to hang on, but they’re not really investing.


As many as 8% of homeowners in the United States have accessed some form of forbearance agreement with their lender on their residential property. A forbearance agreement is when the lender says,


OK. I can see you’re having temporary financial trouble. Let’s postpone a portion of your loan payments. Maybe let’s have you pay only the interest payment, you can defer the principal portion of the loan payment for six months and we’ll extend the loan by six months. That would be an example of a forbearance agreement.


Today, less than 5% of the homes in the country are still in a forbearance agreement. Many have managed to exit the forbearance. The banks were encouraged to extend these types of terms to borrowers and at the same time, the Federal government issued a moratorium on foreclosures, in addition to the moratorium on evictions that protect tenants from eviction during the pandemic.


Those forbearance agreements have a term of 12 months. Over the coming 90 days, many of those forbearance agreements are going to be coming to a an end. So the question is, what happens at the end of the 12 month term? There is still a moratorium on foreclosures. The foreclosure process is not fast at all. But still it’s not clear what will happen to these millions of homes?


Will the lender extend the forbearance agreement? Will the lender modify the loan and extend the term of the loan, or lower the interest rate? Or will the lender move to put these loans in default?


It turns out that in order for the lender to approve the modification, they will need to re-underwrite the loan. If you don’t have a steady income stream you won’t qualify.


If you are receiving an unemployment check and you’re going to have trouble making payments on your home loan, you won’t qualify for a loan modification. You have to not need the help in order to qualify for the help.


Now the contradiction in terms should not be lost on you.


About a quarter of the forbearance agreements in existence will expire in the next 6 weeks.


I can tell you know from first hand experience that the permanent economic damage is starting to appear in a big way.


I’m seeing first hand businesses closing down, and I’m seeing these business assets being sold. I’m now seeing asset sales from businesses that are closing cross my desk about once a week. My team is conducting due diligence on multiple businesses right now as we speak.


I speak regularly with a specialist in asset disposal. These are the folks that will come into a business or a restaurant that is closing and remove all the equipment and cart it away to a warehouse to be sold at auction. They’re running out of warehouse space. They’re busier than they’ve ever been.


So the impending housing crisis of foreclosures on the scale of 2008 seems to be a distance away. Governments are trying hard to prevent the carnage in the housing market that was experienced following the 2008 financial crisis. All we can say right now is that government will continue to shovel cash into the system. Where this cash will ultimately end up nobody knows.

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Help if you don't need it

Help if you don't need it

Victor Menasce