What is COLLATERALIZED MORTGAGE OBLIGATION? What does COLLATERALIZED MORTGAGE OBLIGATION mean? COLLATERALIZED MORTGAGE OBLIGATION meaning - COLLATERALIZED MORTGAGE OBLIGATION definition - COLLATERALIZED MORTGAGE OBLIGATION explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
A collateralized mortgage obligation (CMO) is a type of complex debt security that repackages and directs the payments of principal and interest from a collateral pool to different types and maturities of securities, thereby meeting investor needs. CMOs were first created in 1983 by the investment banks Salomon Brothers and First Boston for the U.S. mortgage liquidity provider Freddie Mac. (The Salomon Brothers team was led by Gordon Taylor. The First Boston team was led by Dexter Senft).
Legally, a CMO is a debt security issued by an abstraction - a special purpose entity - and is not a debt owed by the institution creating and operating the entity. The entity is the legal owner of a set of mortgages, called a pool. Investors in a CMO buy bonds issued by the entity, and they receive payments from the income generated by the mortgages according to a defined set of rules. With regard to terminology, the mortgages themselves are termed collateral, 'classes' refers to groups of mortgages issued to borrowers of roughly similar credit worthiness, tranches are specified fractions or slices, metaphorically speaking, of a pool of mortgages and the income they produce that are combined into an individual security, while the structure is the set of rules that dictates how the income received from the collateral will be distributed. The legal entity, collateral, and structure are collectively referred to as the deal. Unlike traditional mortgage pass-through securities, CMOs feature different payment streams and risks, depending on investor preferences. For tax purposes, CMOs are generally structured as Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits, which avoid the potential for "double-taxation."
Investors in CMOs include banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, pension funds, mutual funds, government agencies, and most recently central banks. This article focuses primarily on CMO bonds as traded in the United States of America.
The term "collateralized mortgage obligation" technically refers to a security issued by specific type of legal entity dealing in residential mortgages, but investors also frequently refer to deals put together using other types of entities such as real estate mortgage investment conduits as CMOs.
The most basic way a mortgage loan can be transformed into a bond suitable for purchase by an investor would simply be to "split it". For example, a $300,000 30 year mortgage with an interest rate of 6.5% could be split into 300 1000 dollar bonds. These bonds would have a 30 year amortization, and an interest rate of 6.00% for example (with the remaining .50% going to the servicing company to send out the monthly bills and perform servicing work). However, this format of bond has various problems for various investors
Even though the mortgage is 30 years, the borrower could theoretically pay off the loan earlier than 30 years, and will usually do so when rates have gone down, forcing the investor to have to reinvest his money at lower interest rates, something he may have not planned for. This is known as prepayment risk.
A 30 year time frame is a long time for an investor's money to be locked away. Only a small percentage of investors would be interested in locking away their money for this long. Even if the average home owner refinanced their loan every 10 years, meaning that the average bond would only last 10 years, there is a risk that the borrowers would not refinance, such as during an extending high interest rate period, this is known as extension risk. In addition, the longer time frame of a bond, the more the price moves up and down with the changes of interest rates, causing a greater potential penalty or bonus for an investor selling his bonds early. This is known as interest rate risk.
Most normal bonds can be thought of as "interest only loans", where the borrower borrows a fixed amount and then pays interest only before returning the principal at the end of a period. On a normal mortgage, interest and principal are paid each month, causing the amount of interest earned to decrease. This is undesirable to many investors because they are forced to reinvest the principal. This is known as reinvestment risk.
On loans not guaranteed by the quasi-governmental agencies Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, certain investors may not agree with the risk reward tradeoff of the interest rate earned versus the potential loss of principal due to the borrower not paying. The latter event is known as default risk.