Buried in a feel good story about auto loans comes the news that subprime auto loans are at levels that we haven’t seen in nearly a decade.
Tag: Auto Loans
The issue of subprime car loans, specifically loans with exorbitant interest rates for used cars, has filtered into the New York Times, with the paper’s Dealbook section running an investigation into the practice.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a government entity that regulates and supervises banks, is sounding the alarm regarding risks related to auto loans.
New technology is allowing buyers with no credit score – due to a lack of credit history or a personal bankruptcy – to get vehicle financing via examination of documents like the payment history of their cable or cell phone bill.
Though the calendar is about to change to 2014, it appears to be 2007 all over again in dealer lots and showrooms nationwide as a record number of auto loans with low interest rates were signed during the third quarter of 2013.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, increased competition for issuing auto loans will result in lenders taking greater risks and lowering underwriting standards. “Auto lenders will continue their return to higher levels of risk-taking, a trend that emerged in 2013 and will gain momentum in the coming year,” Moody’s analysts Jeffrey Hibbs, Mack Caldwell and William Black wrote in a report published Monday. Greater competition between lenders will result in “ever-more generous loan terms,” they said.
As the economy has slowly improved, losses on vehicle debt are down across the board, regardless of creditworthiness, compared to historic norms. That fact and continued low interest rates are attracting lenders into the car loan market. (Read More…)
Months after TTAC started to relentlessly bleat about the glut of money flowing into the auto loan sector, the mainstream media is finally taking notice. Automotive News is finally expressing some worry over the factors that we’ve been discussing for some time: car loan terms are getting longer (to help keep payments low), subprime lending is increasing and an expected rise in interest rates could put an end to the new car market’s exuberant performance.
According to a report issued last week by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, car and light truck loan originations have reached a six-year high. Automotive News reports that for the second quarter of 2013, new loans went up 11% to $91.8 billion, including consumers with all credit ratings. U.S. light vehicle sales were up 9% for the quarter from last year.
The Fed said that the biggest year to year change was in the 621-660 credit score range, just below “prime” rankings. That tranche rose 16% to $12.1 billion. Loans to those with worse credit, a score below 620, were up ~11% from 2012 to $21.2 billion.
8 years to pay off a car? A report by the Wall Street Journal claims that in Q4 of 2012, the average car loan stretched out to 65 months, or just over 5 years. Loan terms were being stretched out over increasingly longer terms too, with credit firm Experian reporting that nearly 1 in 5 car loans had terms between 73 and 84 months long, with some stretching for as long as 97 months.
March was the 5th straight month of a SAAR above 15 million vehicles. Industry analysts have explained the strength of the market in a number of ways. The need to replace older vehicles is one (new car sales were hit hard during the recession as consumers held on to their vehicles for longer. This also caused used car prices to skyrocket, something TTAC has been documenting), while others have cited increasing fleet demand, and the desire to replace vehicles damaged in Hurricane Sandy.
But one factor that is just starting to get attention outside of TTAC is sub-prime financing. Sub-prime lending, which involves giving high-interest loans to customers with poor credit scores, is driving the SAAR in a big way, by letting buyers with poor credit purchase new cars. In turn, the sub-prime bubble is being driven by Wall Street, whose clients cannot get enough of financial instruments backed by sub-prime auto loans.