Negative amortization

In finance, negative amortization (also known as NegAm, deferred interest or graduated payment mortgage) occurs whenever the loan payment for any period is less than the interest charged over that period so that the outstanding balance of the loan increases. As an amortization method the shorted amount (difference between interest and repayment) is then added to the total amount owed to the lender. Such a practice would have to be agreed upon before shorting the payment so as to avoid default on payment. This method is generally used in an introductory period before loan payments exceed interest and the loan becomes self-amortizing. The term is most often used for mortgage loans; corporate loans with negative amortization are called PIK loans.

Amortization refers to the process of paying off a debt (often from a loan or mortgage) through regular payments. A portion of each payment is for interest while the remaining amount is applied towards the principal balance. The percentage of interest versus principal in each payment is determined in an amortization schedule.

Defining characteristics

Negative amortization only occurs in loans in which the periodic payment does not cover the amount of interest due for that loan period. The unpaid accrued interest is then capitalized monthly into the outstanding principal balance. The result of this is that the loan balance (or principal) increases by the amount of the unpaid interest on a monthly basis. The purpose of such a feature is most often for advanced cash management and/or more simply payment flexibility, but not to increase overall affordability.

Neg-Ams also have what is called a recast period, and the recast principal balance cap is in the U.S. based on federal and state legislation. The recast period is usually 60 months (5 years). The recast principal balance cap (also known as the "neg am limit") is usually up to a 25% increase of the amortized loan balance over the original loan amount. States and lenders can offer products with lesser recast periods and principal balance caps; but cannot issue loans that exceed their state and federal legislated requirements under penalty of law.

A newer loan option has been introduced which allows for a 40-year loan term. This makes the minimum payment even lower than a comparable 30-year term.

Special cases

  • Reverse mortgage: In the extreme or limiting case of the principle of negative amortization, the borrower in a loan does not need to make payments on the loan until the loan comes due; that is, all interest is capitalized, and the original principal and all interest accrued as of the due date are paid off together and at once. The most common context in which this arrangement occurs is that of using residential single-family real estate as collateral for the loan, in which case the loan is known as a reverse mortgage. In the United States of America, the terms of reverse mortgages are heavily regulated by federal law, which as of January 2016 places a lower age limit on the set of permitted borrowers and requires that the mortgage come due only when the borrower no longer uses the property in question as his/her principal residence,[1] usually due to the borrower's death.

    Due to the specificity of the reverse-mortgage concept and the limited context in which the term appears in practice, most United States authorities use the term "negative amortization" to denote those and only those loans in which the borrower pays throughout the lifetime of the loan but during and only during its early stages, known as the negative-amortization or "NegAm" period, makes what are in effect partial payments, namely payments lower than the amount of interest accrued during the payment term.

Typical circumstances

All NegAM home loans eventually require full repayment of principal and interest according to the original term of the mortgage and note signed by the borrower. Most loans only allow NegAM to happen for no more than 5 years, and have terms to "Recast" (see below) the payment to a fully amortizing schedule if the borrower allows the principal balance to rise to a pre-specified amount.

This loan is written often in high cost areas, because the monthly mortgage payments will be lower than any other type of financing instrument.

Negative amortization loans can be high risk loans for inexperienced investors. These loans tend to be safer in a falling rate market and riskier in a rising rate market.

Start rates on negative amortization or minimum payment option loans can be as low as 1%. This is the payment rate, not the actual interest rate. The payment rate is used to calculate the minimum payment. Other minimum payment options include 1.95% or more.

Adjustable rate feature

NegAM loans today are mostly straight adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), meaning that they are fixed for a certain period and adjust every time that period has elapsed; e.g., one month fixed, adjusting every month. The NegAm loan, like all adjustable rate mortgages, is tied to a specific financial index which is used to determine the interest rate based on the current index and the margin (the markup the lender charges). Most NegAm loans today are tied to the Monthly Treasury Average, in keeping with the monthly adjustments of this loan. There are also Hybrid ARM loans in which there is a period of fixed payments for months or years, followed by an increased change cycle, such as six months fixed, then monthly adjustable.

The graduated payment mortgage is a "fixed rate" NegAm loan, but since the payment increases over time, it has aspects of the ARM loan until amortizing payments are required.

The most notable differences between the traditional payment option ARM and the hybrid payment option ARM are in the start rate, also known as the "minimum payment" rate. On a Traditional Payment Option Arm, the minimum payment is based on a principal and interest calculation of 1% - 2.5% on average.

The start rate on a hybrid payment option ARM is higher, yet still extremely competitive payment wise.

On a hybrid payment option ARM, the minimum payment is derived using the "interest only" calculation of the start rate. The start rate on the hybrid payment option ARM typically is calculated by taking the fully indexed rate (actual note rate), then subtracting 3%, which will give you the start rate.

Example: 7.5% fully indexed rate − 3% = 4.5% (4.5% would be the start rate on a hybrid pay option ARM)

This guideline can vary among lenders.

Aliases the payment option ARM loans are known by:

  • PayOption ARM
  • Negative Amortizing Loan (Neg Am)
  • Pick - A - Pay
  • Deferred interest option loan (this is the way this loan was introduced to the mortgage industry when first created)

Mortgage terminology

  • Cap
Percentage rate of change in the NegAm payment. Each year, the minimum payment due rises. Most minimum payments today rise at 7.5%. Considering that raising a rate 1% on a mortgage at 5% is a 20% increase, the NegAm can grow quickly in a rising market. Typically after the 5th year, the loan is recast to an adjustable loan due in 25 years. This is for a 30 year loan term. Newer payment option loans often offer a 40 year term with a higher underlying interest rate.
  • Life cap
The maximum interest rate allowed after recast according to the terms of the note. Generally most NegAm loans in the last 5 years have a life cap of 9.95%. Today many of these loans are capped at 12% or above.

(In general Author is using time references that are relative to a time frame that is not defined. 'Today' which is?; 'last 5 years' from when, etc.)

  • Index
The variable, such as the COFI; COSI; CODI or often MTA, which determines the adjustment as an increase or decrease in the interest rate. Other examples include the LIBOR and TREASURY.
  • Margin
Often disclosed in the adjustable rate rider of a Deed of Trust, the margin is determined by the lender and is used to calculate the interest rate. Often the loan originator can increase the margin when structuring the product for the borrower. An increase to the margin will also increase the borrower's interest rate, but will improve the yield spread premium which the loan originator may receive as compensation from the lender.
  • Fully indexed rate (F.I.R.)
The fully indexed rate is the sum of the margin and the current index value at the time of adjustment. The F.I.R. is the "interest rate" and determines the interest only, 30 year and 15 year amortized payments. Most adjustable rate products have caps on rate adjustments. If the note provides for a single adjustment not to exceed an increase by more than 1.5, and the variable index, for example, increased by 2.5 since the last adjustment, the fully indexed rate will top out at a maximum adjustment of 1.5, as stated in the note, for that particular adjustment period. Often the F.I.R. is used to determine the debt to income ratio when qualifying a borrower for this loan product.
  • Payment options
There are typically 4 payment options (listed from highest to lowest):
  • 15 year payment
    • Amortized over a period of 15 years at the F.I.R.
  • 30 year payment
    • Amortized over a period of 30 years at the F.I.R.
  • Interest only payment
    • F.I.R. times the principal balance, divided by 12 months (with no amortization or reduction in the owed balance).
  • Minimum payment
    • Based on the minimal start rate determined by the lender. When paying the minimum payment, the difference between the interest only payment and the minimum payment is deferred to the balance of the loan increasing what is owed on the mortgage.
  • Period
How often the NegAm payment changes. Typically, the minimum payment rises once every twelve months in these types of loans. Usually the rate of rise is 7.5%. The F.I.R. is subject to adjusting with the variable Index, most often on a monthly basis, depending on the product.
  • Recast
Premature stop of NegAm. Should the balance increase to a predetermined amount (from 110% up to 125% of the original balance per federal or state regulations) the loan will be "recast" with one of two payment options: the fully amortized principal and interest payment, or if the maximum balance has been reached before the fifth year, an interest only payment until the loan has matured to the recast date (typically 5 years).
  • Stop
End of NegAm payment schedule.


Negative-amortization loans, being relatively popular only in the last decade, have attracted a variety of criticisms:

  • Unlike most other adjustable-rate loans, many negative-amortization loans have been advertised with either teaser or artificial, introductory interest rates or with the minimum loan payment expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. For example, a negative-amortization loan is often advertised as featuring "1% interest", or by prominently displaying a 1% number without explaining the F.I.R. This practice has been done by large corporate lenders. This practice has been considered deceptive for two different reasons: most mortgages do not feature teaser rates, so consumers do not look out for them; and, many consumers aren't aware of the negative amortization side effect of only paying 1% of the loan amount per year. In addition, most negative amortization loans contain a clause saying that the payment may not increase more than 7.5% each year, except if the 5-year period is over or if the balance has grown by 15%. Critics say this clause is only there to deceive borrowers into thinking the payment could only jump a small amount, whereas in fact the other two conditions are more likely to occur.
  • Negative-amortization loans as a class have the highest potential for what is known as payment shock. Payment shock is when the required monthly payment jumps from one month to the next, potentially becoming unaffordable. To compare various mortgages' payment-shock potential (note that the items here do not include escrow payments for insurance and taxes, which can cause changes in the payment amount):
    • 30-year (or 15-year) fixed-rate fully amortized mortgages: no possible payment jump.
    • 5-year adjustable-rate fully amortized mortgage: No payment jump for 5 years, then a possible payment decrease or increase based on the new interest rate.
    • A 10-year interest only mortgage product, recasting to a 20-year amortization schedule (after ten years of interest-only payments) could see a payment increase of up to $600 on a balance of 330K.
    • Negative amortization mortgage: no payment jump either until 5 years OR the balance grows 15% (depending on the product) higher than the original amount. The payment increases, by requiring a full interest-plus-principal payment. The payment could further increase due to interest-rate changes. However, all things being equal, the fully amortized payment is almost triple the negatively amortized payment.
    • First month free: a loan officer may allow the borrower to skip the first monthly payment on a refinance loan, by simply adding that payment to the principal and charging compound interest on it for many years. The borrower may not understand or question the transaction.

In a very hot real estate market a buyer may use a negative-amortizing mortgage to purchase a property with the plan to sell the property at a higher price before the end of the "negam" period. Therefore, an informed investor could purchase several properties with minimal monthly obligations and make a great profit over a five-year plan in a rising real-estate market.

However, if the property values decrease, it is likely that the borrower will owe more on the property than it is worth, known colloquially in the mortgage industry as "being underwater". In this situation, if the property owner cannot make the new monthly payment, he or she may be faced with foreclosure or having to refinance with a very high loan-to-value ratio, requiring additional monthly obligations, such as mortgage insurance, and higher rates and payments due to the adversity of a high loan-to-value ratio.

It is very easy for borrowers to ignore or misunderstand the complications of this product when being presented with minimal monthly obligations that could be from one half to one third what other, more predictable, mortgage products require.

See also


  1. ^ Reverse Mortgages - Top Ten Things to Know - HUD
Adjustable-rate mortgage

A variable-rate mortgage, adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), or tracker mortgage is a mortgage loan with the interest rate on the note periodically adjusted based on an index which reflects the cost to the lender of borrowing on the credit markets. The loan may be offered at the lender's standard variable rate/base rate. There may be a direct and legally defined link to the underlying index, but where the lender offers no specific link to the underlying market or index the rate can be changed at the lender's discretion. The term "variable-rate mortgage" is most common outside the United States, whilst in the United States, "adjustable-rate mortgage" is most common, and implies a mortgage regulated by the Federal government, with caps on charges. In many countries, adjustable rate mortgages are the norm, and in such places, may simply be referred to as mortgages.

Among the most common indices are the rates on 1-year constant-maturity Treasury (CMT) securities, the cost of funds index (COFI), and the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). A few lenders use their own cost of funds as an index, rather than using other indices. This is done to ensure a steady margin for the lender, whose own cost of funding will usually be related to the index. Consequently, payments made by the borrower may change over time with the changing interest rate (alternatively, the term of the loan may change). This is distinct from the graduated payment mortgage, which offers changing payment amounts but a fixed interest rate. Other forms of mortgage loan include the interest-only mortgage, the fixed-rate mortgage, the negative amortization mortgage, and the balloon payment mortgage.

Adjustable rates transfer part of the interest rate risk from the lender to the borrower. They can be used where unpredictable interest rates make fixed rate loans difficult to obtain. The borrower benefits if the interest rate falls but loses if the interest rate increases. The borrower benefits from reduced margins to the underlying cost of borrowing compared to fixed or capped rate mortgages.

Amortization (business)

In business, amortization refers to spreading payments over multiple periods. The term is used for two separate processes: amortization of loans and amortization of assets. In the latter case it refers to allocating the cost of an intangible asset over a period of time.

Amortization schedule

An amortization schedule is a table detailing each periodic payment on an amortizing loan (typically a mortgage), as generated by an amortization calculator. Amortization refers to the process of paying off a debt (often from a loan or mortgage) over time through regular payments. A portion of each payment is for interest while the remaining amount is applied towards the principal balance. The percentage of interest versus principal in each payment is determined in an amortization schedule. The schedule differentiates the portion of payment that belongs to interest expense from the portion used to close the gap of a discount or premium from the principal after each payment.

While a portion of every payment is applied towards both the interest and the principal balance of the loan, the exact amount applied to principal each time varies (with the remainder going to interest). An amortization schedule indicates the specific monetary amount put towards interest, as well as the specific amount put towards the principal balance, with each payment. Initially, a large portion of each payment is devoted to interest. As the loan matures, larger portions go towards paying down the principal.

Asset backed lending

Asset Back Lending ("ABL") typically provides collateralized credit facilities to borrowers with high financial leverage and marginal cash flows.

Distressed lending

Distressed lending typically provides credit facilities to borrowers with good cash generation capacity but short-term liquidity issues.

Doris Dungey

Doris J. Dungey (November 15, 1961 – November 30, 2008) was an American blogger who wrote extensively about the United States housing bubble for the blog Calculated Risk under the pseudonym Tanta.

Fixed-rate mortgage

A fixed-rate mortgage (FRM), often referred to as a "vanilla wafer" mortgage loan, is a fully amortizing mortgage loan where the interest rate on the note remains the same through the term of the loan, as opposed to loans where the interest rate may adjust or "float". As a result, payment amounts and the duration of the loan are fixed and the person who is responsible for paying back the loan benefits from a consistent, single payment and the ability to plan a budget based on this fixed cost.

Other forms of mortgage loans include interest only mortgage, graduated payment mortgage, variable rate mortgage (including adjustable-rate mortgages and tracker mortgages), negative amortization mortgage, and balloon payment mortgage. Unlike many other loan types, FRM interest payments and loan duration is fixed from beginning to end.

Fixed-rate mortgages are characterized by amount of loan, interest rate, compounding frequency, and duration. With these values, the monthly repayments can be calculated.

Glossary of US mortgage terminology

Terms pertaining to US mortgages include:

Main two types

Origination and Re-Financing

Origination: starting from the scrap, Ex, A person want to buy a home and go to the bank for the same will get loan of 80% of their LTV.

Re-finance: defaulted borrower can apply for the same refinancing procedure to re modify the loan term,interest rate.

Graduated payment mortgage loan

A graduated payment mortgage loan, often referred to as GPM, is a mortgage with low initial monthly payments which gradually increase over a specified time frame. These plans are mostly geared towards young people who cannot afford large payments now, but can realistically expect to raise their incomes in the future. For instance a medical student who is just about to finish medical school might not have the financial capability to pay for a mortgage loan, but once he graduates, it is more than probable that he will be earning a high income. It is a form of negative amortization loan.

Graduated payments

Graduated payments are repayment terms involving gradual increases in the payments on a closed-end obligation. A graduated payment loan typically involves negative amortization, and is intended for students in the case of student loans, and homebuyers in the case of real estate, who currently have moderate incomes and anticipate their income will increase over the next 5–10 years.

All Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lenders can offer a FHA Graduated payment mortgage loan, which begin with a lower monthly payment that increases annually over the first 5–10 years of the loan, and then it levels out to a fixed monthly payment for the remaining years of the mortgage. There are five FHA Graduated Payment Mortgages offered in 15-year and 30-year terms. The difference between the plans lies in the rate of increase of the mortgage payment, which annually increases 2.5%, 5%, or 7.5% until it levels off.

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Philip Minsky (September 23, 1919 – October 24, 1996) was an American economist, a professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, and a distinguished scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His research attempted to provide an understanding and explanation of the characteristics of financial crises, which he attributed to swings in a potentially fragile financial system. Minsky is sometimes described as a post-Keynesian economist because, in the Keynesian tradition, he supported some government intervention in financial markets, opposed some of the financial deregulation policies popular in the 1980s, stressed the importance of the Federal Reserve as a lender of last resort and argued against the over-accumulation of private debt in the financial markets.Minsky's economic theories were largely ignored for decades, until the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 caused a renewed interest in them.

Interest-only loan

An interest-only loan is a loan in which the borrower pays only the interest for some or all of the term, with the principal balance unchanged during the interest-only period. At the end of the interest-only term the borrower must renegotiate another interest-only mortgage, pay the principal, or, if previously agreed, convert the loan to a principal-and-interest payment (amortized) loan at the borrower's option.


In finance, a loan is the lending of money by one or more individuals, organizations, or other entities to other individuals, organizations etc. The recipient (i.e. the borrower) incurs a debt, and is usually liable to pay interest on that debt until it is repaid, and also to repay the principal amount borrowed.

The document evidencing the debt, e.g. a promissory note, will normally specify, among other things, the principal amount of money borrowed, the interest rate the lender is charging, and date of repayment. A loan entails the reallocation of the subject asset(s) for a period of time, between the lender and the borrower.

The interest provides an incentive for the lender to engage in the loan. In a legal loan, each of these obligations and restrictions is enforced by contract, which can also place the borrower under additional restrictions known as loan covenants. Although this article focuses on monetary loans, in practice any material object might be lent.

Acting as a provider of loans is one of the main activities of financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies. For other institutions, issuing of debt contracts such as bonds is a typical source of funding.


LoanDepot, sometimes stylized as loanDepot, is a Foothill Ranch, California-based holding company which sells mortgage and non-mortgage lending products. It is reportedly the second largest non-bank provider of direct-to-consumer loans in the United States.The company was founded in 2010 by mortgage company entrepreneur Anthony Hsieh.

Loss mitigation

Loss mitigation is used to describe a third party helping a homeowner, a division within a bank that mitigates the loss of the bank, or a firm that handles the process of negotiation between a homeowner and the homeowner's lender. Loss mitigation works to negotiate mortgage terms for the homeowner that will prevent foreclosure. These new terms are typically obtained through loan modification, short sale negotiation, short refinance negotiation, deed in lieu of foreclosure, cash-for-keys negotiation, a partial claim loan, repayment plan, forbearance, or other loan work-out. All of the options serve the same purpose, to stabilize the risk of loss the lender (investor) is in danger of realizing../

Negative equity

Negative equity occurs when the value of an asset used to secure a loan is less than the outstanding balance on the loan. In the United States, assets (particularly real estate, whose loans are mortgages) with negative equity are often referred to as being "underwater", and loans and borrowers with negative equity are said to be "upside down".

People and companies alike may have negative equity, as reflected on their balance sheets.

PIK loan

A PIK, or payment in kind, is a type of high-risk loan or bond that allows borrowers to pay interest with additional debt, rather than cash. That makes it an expensive, high-risk financing instrument since the size of the debt may increase quickly, leaving lenders with big losses if the borrower is unable to pay back the loan.


In relation to a mortgage, PITI (pronounced like the word "pity") is an acronym for a mortgage payment that is the sum of monthly principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. That is, PITI is the sum of the monthly loan service (principal and interest) plus the monthly property tax payment, homeowners insurance premium, and, when applicable, mortgage insurance premium and homeowners association fee. For mortgagers whose property tax payments and homeowners insurance premiums are escrowed as part of their monthly housing payment, PITI therefore is the monthly "bottom line" of what they call their "mortgage payment" (although more precisely it is a combined payment of mortgage, tax, and insurance).

Super jumbo mortgage

A Super Jumbo Mortgage is classified in the United States as a residential mortgage or other home-equity secured loan in an amount greater than $650,000, although lenders differ on just what constitutes a super jumbo mortgage subject to their own internal investment criteria. Super Jumbo mortgages are made available to borrowers whose loan requirements exceed the guidelines commonly referred to as Jumbo loan limits, which apply to mortgage loan amounts in excess of the FNMA / FHLMC ("Fannie Mae" or "Freddie Mac") conforming loan limits of 417,000. Unlike Jumbo loan limits, the super jumbo mortgage category is not directly defined, controlled, or regulated by any of these aforementioned agencies. Instead, mortgage lenders internally and independently define their own parameters and criteria for what defines a Super Jumbo mortgage. The minimum loan amount for some lenders to classify a loan as Super Jumbo ranges from $500,000 (with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands where jumbo loan limits on single family residences are $625,000, or 50% higher) to $1,500,000, with maximum super jumbo loan amounts generally running into the $10,000,000 to $20,000,000 range.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.