Magazine article Real Estate Issues

An Evaluation of the Asset Integrated Mortgage

Magazine article Real Estate Issues

An Evaluation of the Asset Integrated Mortgage

Article excerpt

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) recently approved a new type of hybrid mortgage, the Asset Integrated Mortgage (AIM), that combines a home loan and a fixed insurance annuity. The borrower invests most of the money in an annuity that is normally earmarked for the down payment. As long as the annuity investment plus the down payment exceeds 20 percent of the home's worth, the borrower avoids mortgage insurance costs, just like a conventional mortgage with 20 percent down. The AIM is being promoted as a way for consumers to save, diversify their asset base and build a nest egg for retirement.(1)

The purpose of this article is to evaluate the Asset Integrated Mortgage (AIM). A valuation model is established that compares the AIM with a conventional mortgage and finds the rate of return required on the annuity investment that equates an identical value to the AIM and the conventional mortgage.

Properties Of AIMs

AIMs combine a home mortgage and an insurance annuity. A large portion of the down payment for a house is invested in an annuity which serves as collateral for the loan. Frank Demarais, vice president of Product Development at FNMA, states "At the end of the mortgage term, consumers will own their homes free and clear and have accumulated a significant nest egg."(2) The nest egg refers to future value of the annuity invested upfront that otherwise would be used as the down payment. With an AIM, the borrower's monthly payments will be higher than with a conventional mortgage and a 20 percent down payment, because less money will be put down with an AIM and more will be borrowed. For example, a home buyer who would normally put down the customary 20 percent on a house, instead would put down 5 percent and invest the other 15 percent in an annuity. If a borrower is considering a $100,000 house, 20 percent, or $20,000, would be a required down payment to avoid paying mortgage insurance costs, and the remaining $80,000 would be borrowed. With an 8 percent annual interest rate, the monthly payment would be approximately $587. Over 30 years, the home owner would pay $211,324 in total payments and $131,324 in interest charges.

An AIM, by contrast, would require a down payment of only 5 percent, or $5,000. The other $15,000 would be used to purchase an annuity which would serve as collateral in addition to the 5 percent down payment. The monthly payment with this AIM arrangement would be $697, or $110 more per month than the conventional mortgage with 20 percent down. Interest charges with the AIM would total $155,947, and the total payments over 360 months would be $250,947. The difference in total payments between the two mortgages is $39,623.

Van P. Carter, president of Financial Integration Inc. which created the AIM, estimates that at a 6.2 percent rate of return (compounded monthly the AIM annuity value would exceed the $95,000 borrowed for the house. However, the guaranteed rates of General Life Insurance Company and AIG Life Insurance Company, the only insurers currently approved by FNMA for the program, are offering 3.5 and 4.0 percent, respectively.(3) After 30 years, the $15,000 annuity would be worth about $42,800 at an annual rate of 3.5 percent with monthly compounding, far less than $95,000 using a 6.2 percent return. In addition, if the $110 difference were invested in a tax-deferred annuity offering a 6.2 percent return, it would grow to $114,820. Therefore, the value of the AIM is suspect from a valuation standpoint. In addition, the amount chosen for investment in the annuity is committed until the mortgage is repaid.

AIMs offer benefits separate from direct valuation. For example, Carter suggests that the reallocation of funds to the annuity diversifies the assets of the borrower and minimizes risk. The annuity "lowers transaction costs and provides a financial safety net."(4) Transaction costs are saved because the annuity serves as the alternative to mortgage insurance. …

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