Why You Might Want To Price Your Home Around $417,000

Remember a month ago, when the Chronicle reported that high-priced homes in Houston were selling well, despite all the problems at the lower end of the market?

Sales of homes priced $500,000 and higher were up 11.7 percent so far this year.

How long will that continue? Rates for jumbo mortgages (currently greater than $417K) and Alt-A loans have risen dramatically in recent weeks, while other rates have dropped, Bankrate reports.

Investors now believe that stated-income borrowers are going to default on their jumbo loans in bigger than previously expected numbers. So they have virtually stopped buying Alt-A and especially jumbo Alt-A mortgages. When lenders can’t sell the loans, they stop offering them to borrowers — or they ration them by jacking up the rates. That’s what happened.

But why are jumbo-mortgage customers being penalized for the actions of the no-doc-loan crowd?

When jumbo mortgages are securitized, the loan pools contain a mixture of mortgages in which borrowers documented their incomes along with mortgages in which borrowers merely stated their incomes, without providing documentation. In other words, they mingle jumbo and Alt-A.

It’s not hard to imagine an effort to unbundle those two loan classes, but don’t hold your breath.