Jumbo Mortgages, Jumbo Headaches - WSJ.com
Anything bigger is called a "jumbo" loan -- and not only is the government ignoring this segment of the market, so are lenders, few of whom are originating or refinancing jumbo mortgages. The reason: Jumbo loans are too large to be guaranteed by a government-backed mortgage agency, such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, meaning banks assume the risk if the loan goes bad. In the current lending environment, few banks want to take on any risk.
That's hurting borrowers like Pete Zipkin, who's the kind of affluent customer that banks once coveted. The 35-year-old technology executive -- who says he has a spotless credit record and at least 20% equity in his home -- has come up empty-handed in his search for a jumbo mortgage of more than $1 million for his recently built five-bedroom home in Alamo, Calif., near San Francisco.
Unable to find a fixed-rate mortgage when his construction loan expired last fall, Mr. Zipkin now has a variable-rate loan that adjusts monthly. The rate is currently 5%, but it can go as high as 12%. He says banks have turned him down in part because they are worried about falling home prices in California, even though price declines in Alamo, where the median home price is $1.3 million, have been less severe