So, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today changed the rules on bank accounting practices, specifically related to asset accounting. Banks can now report asset values that are not in line with current market values – essentially, they can say that your $200k house you bought a year ago that now has a market price of $150k is still $200k on their balance sheet. From the article:
The FASB issued new guidelines under the so-called mark-to-market accounting rules, which require companies to value assets at prices reflecting current market conditions. The changes, which apply to the second quarter that began this month, will allow the assets to be valued at what the banks project they might sell for in the future, rather than in the current, distressed environment.
I think, on the surface, that this is an OK idea. Current market rate is probably a little bit different than the over time/prevailing market rate. However, I’m gonna call my mortgage company tomorrow and ask about a refinance.. if they tell me that they won’t do that because I’m underwater on my house value, I’m going to wonder why it’s OK for the bank to take that view when I can’t argue the same for my own home’s value.