What is a Recast Trigger

A recast trigger is a clause in a loan contract that sets into motion an unscheduled modification to the loan's remaining amortization schedule, such as its repayment table, should certain conditions be met. 

BREAKING DOWN Recast Trigger

A recast trigger essentially changes the scope of the amortization schedule, so as to insure on-time payment. In particular, the clause speaks to negative amortization mortgages. By definition, a negative amortization occurs when the principal balance of a loan increases because a borrower failed to make payments that cover the interest due. The remaining interest owed is added to the loan's principal. When the mortgage's outstanding principal balance rises to a certain percentage, typically between 110 percent and 125 percent of the mortgage's original principal balance, the trigger takes effect and the recast becomes effective.

Negative amortization can occur with certain types of adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), including payment option adjustable rate mortgages. These mortgages allow borrowers several different ways to pay off the mortgage, such as paying all of the principal and interest, paying only the interest or paying only some of the interest. While the borrower may appreciate that the different payment options with an option ARM, the borrower could wind up paying more over the long term.

Recast Triggers and Risks

A recast trigger presents certain risks that borrowers should familiarize themselves with as they engage the mortgage application process because a lack of understanding could create real financial distress.

When a payment option adjustable rate mortgage hits its negative amortization limit and triggers an unscheduled recast, the monthly payment is likely to increase substantially, resulting in payment shock. The affordable payment that the borrower paid could turn into a significant financial burden should the rate on the ARM adjust and require a larger monthly payment. In an extreme scenario, the payment could increase to the point where the borrower has no choice but to default on the debt.

Notably, even a modest rise in interest rates, depending on the level of the negative amortization limit of the mortgage, could cause an unscheduled recast several months before Month 61, which is typically the first scheduled recast on a payment option ARM. It is standard operating procedure for an option ARM loans to recast every five or 10 years, so Month 61 is a significant marker along the way toward loan repayment. That is when a new minimum payment is calculated. It is to be paid in Month 61 based on the fully indexed rate, the remaining term of the loan and the loan balance at that time.