Now The Rich Are Having Trouble Paying Their Mortgages

It looks like the rich are starting to suffer along with everyone else. The WSJ is reporting that jumbo loan delinquencies are soaring.

About 6.9% of prime “jumbo” loans were at least 90 days delinquent in December, according to LPS Applied Analytics, a mortgage-data research firm. The rate was up sharply from 2.6% a year earlier. In comparison, delinquencies of non-jumbo prime loans that qualify for backing by government agencies climbed to 2.1% from 0.8% in December 2007.

[Banks and Investors Face Jumbo Threat]

This may be one of those “tip of the iceberg” type stories. In the boom years a lot of very expensive homes were purchased by people who had no business buying them. They managed to get in over their heads thanks to “liar loans” and option ARMs. Like everyone else, they thought that rising home prices and the refinance market would let them keep their own personal Ponzi scheme rolling along. Just like the homeowners at the lower end of the market, they’re now finding out that the law of gravity still applies. Prime jumbo loans were underwritten fairly conservatively. If they are cratering you can bet that the Alt-A stuff is in much more dire straits.

A few bloggers have argued that you can expect to see the price declines and foreclosures moving up the housing price scale. This is a good sign that they’re probably right.

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