Peak Insanity: Retail Investors Are Making Direct Subprime Loans In A Reach For Yield

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

It has come to this. Unable to save enough for retirement with traditional investments, baby boomers in search of yield are becoming their own private Countrywide Financials. They’re loaning cash from their deposit accounts and retirement plans and hoping for a big pay day: specifically large returns that will boost their income and maybe even allow them to pass an inheritance on to their children.

 

It used to be that individual lenders were millionaires who could afford to loan cash and handle the risk of not being paid back. Now middle-income pre-retirees, ranging from chiropractors to professors, are joining their ranks.

 

- From an excellent MarketWatch article:  Want 18% returns? Become a subprime lender

Being a somewhat conscious human being in a world in which our “leaders” have completely lost their minds can be challenging at times. One side effect of this condition is a certain emotional numbness when it comes to reacting to new events occurring in the world around you. It’s simply hard to shock me these days, but every now and then it does happen. The following article published by MarketWatch had me literally shaking my head the entire time. If this isn’t peak insanity, I do not want to know what is. We now have chiropractors and orchestral conductors competing with Blackstone in a crowded, insane trade.

Read it and weep:

Barry Jekowsky wanted to build “legacy wealth” to pass down to his children. But the 58-year-old orchestral conductor, who waved the baton for 24 years at the California Symphony, didn’t trust the stock market’s choppy returns to achieve his goals. And the tiny interest earned by his savings accounts were of no help. Instead, Jekowsky opted for an unlikely course: He became a subprime lender, providing his own cash to home buyers with poor credit and charging interest rates of 10% to 18%. It may sound risky, but “it helps me sleep better at night,” he says. “Where else can you find [these] returns?”

Go ahead and read that twice. Ok, now let’s move on, it gets worse.

It has come to this. Unable to save enough for retirement with traditional investments, baby boomers in search of yield are becoming their own private Countrywide Financials. They’re loaning cash from their deposit accounts and retirement plans and hoping for a big pay day: specifically large returns that will boost their income and maybe even allow them to pass an inheritance on to their children. There is no official data, though it’s estimated that at least 100,000 such lenders exist — and the trend is on the rise, says Larry Muck, chairman of the American Association of Private Lenders, which represents a range of lenders including private-equity firms and individuals who are lending their own cash. “We know the number of people who are doing this is increasing dramatically — over the last year it’s grown exponentially,” he says.

The baby boomers will not rest until they destroy the entire world.

It used to be that individual lenders were millionaires who could afford to loan cash and handle the risk of not being paid back. Now middle-income pre-retirees, ranging from chiropractors to professors, are joining their ranks.

 

The move toward mom-and-pop lending comes in the wake of what experts say is the creation of a perfect storm: Banks are still skittish about lending to home buyers with poor credit. Meanwhile, investors who have endured years of low returns from plain-vanilla investment portfolios are itching for something more.

 

The operations often function like a game of telephone. Subprime home buyers, who know they have no shot at getting a mortgage from a bank, start spreading the word to friends and acquaintances that they are on the lookout for anyone who will lend to them. Eventually, the word reaches someone who is willing to lend his or her cash. Other times, a group of individuals pool their cash together to fund the loan.

A game of telephone…

What all these lenders have in common, however, is their willingness to lend to borrowers with low credit scores. In some cases, they do not even check their scores. They point to examples of otherwise reliable borrowers who fell on hard times during the recession and were unable to keep up with loans. Many say they work with borrowers who intentionally stopped paying mortgages (even though they could afford the payments) when they ended up owing more on the loans than the home was worth.

 

Separately, lenders are supposed to be registered with the state where they are originating loans, but many mom-and-pop loan officers are not, says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. And since most of these lenders do not originate a large number of loans per year, they are not required to report their activities to the federal government. “It’s a shadow business,” says Cecala.

 

In a sign that the trend may be here to stay, boot camps are training average Joes to become private lenders. Last month, Wealth Classes, a financial-education company based in Walnut Creek, Calif., that launched in 2007, hosted a networking retreat for 250 students who recently became lenders. Many of the company’s students end up lending to subprime borrowers, though others lend to real estate investors who don’t want to wait weeks to get a mortgage from a bank, says George Antone, founder of Wealth Classes. (Private lending transactions typically take about a week or two to go through, while a mortgage from a bank usually requires at least one-month of waiting time.)

 

Randy King, 61, joined Wealth Classes about three years ago when he started using his own cash to fund other people’s mortgages. A former U.S. Air Force servicemember, King, who is based in Colorado Springs, transitioned to buying fixer uppers and selling them and is now a lender for borrowers — many of whom are subprime — who are buying investment properties.

 

Going forward, experts say, it will be difficult to slow down privately funded subprime loans. This funding spreads mostly by word of mouth, so there’s no official advertisement plug that anyone can pull. Consider King. He recently visited his chiropractor who inquired about his lending operations and then asked if he could jump into one of the deals as well. The chiropractor explained where he would get the funds to become a loan officer: He would use some cash he had saved and withdraw equity from his home using a home-equity line of credit.

QE insanity has arrived. Next up silicon bagel implants.

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