March 15th, 2008 10:58 AM by Lehel Szucs
Most major lenders are freezing access to Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) . Millions of Americans use their HELOCs as their families security blanket to weather any unplanned financial storms. If you were planning on using your HELOC for spring home improvements, medical bills or college tuition, chances are the money has been, or will be shut off.
Most major lenders have been working together in collusion. Behind closed doors, these lenders have created a secret plan to cut off access to your home equity lines of credit.
You must be aware that the lender retains the right to cut off or reduce your line of credit at their sole discretion. Lenders are now arbitrarily reassessing properties and then locking out access for homeowners when the lenders believe the property has negative equity.
What can you do about this when you are affected?
From Countrywide, (this is part of a letter sent to home owners):
'Important message about your loan: At Countrywide Home Loans we are committed to helping customers sustain homeownership. As part of the commitment, and in keeping with its sound risk-management and responsible lending practices, Countrywide Home Loan is reviewing and analyzing home equity lines of credit in its servicing portfolio.
As you know, home values in many areas of the country have declined. We believe that the decline in the value of your property, from its original appraised value at the time your loan was made is significant. In accordance with the terms of your Home Equity Credit Line Agreement and Disclosure Statement (Agreement), we have elected to suspend further draws against your account as of the Effective Date above.'
More Than 122,000 Have Already Lost The Right To Borrow From Their Credit Lines And We Are Just Getting Started.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Countrywide notified many homeowners they've lost their right to borrow against their credit lines:
'Tens of thousands of homeowners with home equity lines of credit are getting a rude surprise: They've been told by their lender that they can no longer take money out on their credit lines because sinking home prices have left them with little or no equity.
Among the lenders taking such action is Countrywide Financial Corp., which sent 122,000 letters to customers last week telling them they could no longer borrow against their credit lines. In some cases, according to the company, the borrowers are now "upside down"—the total debt on the home exceeds the market value of the property.
Calabasas-based Countrywide, the nation's largest mortgage lender, says it uses computer modeling that factors in changes in home prices to determine which customers will have their money tap shut off.'
Countrywide is not alone. This is a partial list of the Mortgage Lenders who are sending HELOC freeze letters now.
Bank of America - HELOC Freeze
Countrywide - HELOC Freeze
Chase - HELOC Freezes
CitiGroup - HELOC Freeze under review
National City - HELOC Freeze
Suntrust - HELOC Freeze
USAA Federal Savings - HELOC Feeeze
Washington Mutual - HELOC Freeze
If there was any question that consumers were feeling the financial pinch before...just wait until they are told that their homes are worth LESS than what they owe. In the words of Countrywide..."Significantly Less." What effect will this have on the economy...think this will make consumers feel more confident about housing?