FRB: Testimony, Braunstein--Non-traditional mortgage products--September 20, 2006:
"Nontraditional mortgage products have increased the range of financing options available to consumers and have grown in popularity over the past few years. With traditional thirty-year fixed-rate loans, consumers have equal monthly payments that are sufficient to cover the accrued interest and pay down the principal. In contrast, interest-only loans allow consumers to defer the payment of principal and make only interest payments for an initial period. Option-ARMs allow consumers to make 'minimum payments' of less than the accrued interest, which causes the loan balance to increase ('negative amortization').Later:
Some consumers may benefit from these products and the more flexible payment options, for example, consumers with seasonal or irregular income. For consumers who expect their incomes to increase, the initially lower monthly payment with these loans may enable them to purchase homes that they otherwise might not be able to afford. But these loan products are not appropriate for everyone, depending on their individual circumstances. When monthly payments increase, sometimes substantially, consumers may face 'payment shock.' Thus, it is important for consumers to have the information necessary to understand the features and risks associated with these types of mortgages...."
"The Federal Reserve plays several roles and engages in various activities to ensure that consumers understand credit terms and the options available to them when they are shopping for mortgage credit."She concludes:
"The Federal Reserve is actively engaged in efforts to ensure that consumers understand the terms and features of nontraditional mortgage products. Improving federally required disclosures under TILA is one aspect of this endeavor. We are also pursuing other opportunities, such as consumer education publications and interagency regulatory guidance that will include recommended best practices for depository institutions. We expect the Board will continue these efforts over time as mortgage products evolve in response to consumers' changing needs."
Teaching note: this would be a great fit for an institutions, money and banking, or commerical banking class. Or even a real estate class.