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Tapping a Flow of Cash From the Credit Cri
against homes, some bankers say. The Federal Reserve’s lowering of interest rates to try to keep the economy from sliding into recession has had the effect of making mortgages on seven- and eight-figure homes attractive. “Money is cheap right now,” Ms. Gorman said.

Such highly leveraged mortgages and refinancings, which have landed many so-called prime borrowers in difficult straits when the value of their houses sank, are now a flow of money that can be put into higher-yielding investments.

“They’re not looking at this as a mortgage, but as a way to accomplish some other goal they have in mind,” said Jan Reuter, a residential real estate executive at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. “Most of them have the ability to pay off the loan if it doesn’t make sense anymore.”

She cited the example of a client who recently took out a $15 million mortgage on an apartment in New York City, something he would not have done with higher interest rates. The loan allowed the borrower

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