Obamas Diverge With Bidens on Mortgage RefinancingMike Dorning
President Barack Obama, who has encouraged homeowners to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of lower interest rates, hasn’t taken his own advice.
Obama, 52, and first lady Michelle Obama, 50, are still making payments on the same mortgage they took out when they purchased their Chicago residence in 2005 at an interest rate of 5.625 percent, according to a disclosure form released today. The form also showed little change in the family’s finances from last year.
Vice President Joe Biden didn’t pass up the mortgage opportunity, refinancing the debt on his Wilmington, Delaware, home at a 3.375 percent interest rate, according to his disclosure form.
The average rate offered on typical 30-year mortgages fell to a six-month low of 4.2 percent this week from a 2013 high of 4.58 percent in August, according to Freddie Mac surveys. Borrowing costs are up from a record low 3.31 percent in November 2012.
White House spokesman Bobby Whitehorne declined to comment on the president’s mortgage.
The disclosure forms offer an annual glimpse at the elected leaders’ finances, showing the first family to be worth between $2 million and $7.2 million. That doesn’t include the value of their Chicago home, which the real estate web site Zillow.com estimates at $2.1 million.
In addition to his $400,000 annual salary, the president received between $70,000 and $165,000 in royalties last year from his three books.
The only debt the Obamas listed was their home mortgage, with a remaining balance between $500,000 and $1 million, according to the form, which lists the values of assets and liabilities in broad ranges.
Biden, 71, and his wife, Jill, 62, are of more modest means, listing assets valued between $276,000 and $943,000, not including the vice president’s Delaware residence. Zillow.com estimates the Bidens’ home to be worth $1.4 million. Biden lists debts totaling between $630,000 and $1.6 million.
The Obamas have placed their wealth in a politically and financially cautious portfolio.
The bulk of the first family’s money is invested in U.S. Treasury debt. The Obamas have between $1 million and $5 million in Treasury notes, which have a maturity between one year and 10 years. They also listed between $250,000 and $500,000 in Treasury bills, which have a maturity of one year or less.
In addition to the president’s pension from the Illinois state legislature, where he served as a lawmaker, the Obamas listed three retirement accounts invested in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, with a combined balance between $300,000 and $750,000. The funds mimic the performance of the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, which returned 32.36 percent last year.
The Obamas have set aside money for college costs for their two daughters, Malia, 15 and Sasha, 12. They reported having between $200,000 and $400,000 in tax-advantaged 529 college savings accounts.
The Obamas also ended the year with a combined balance $151,000 and $365,000 in three checking accounts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Northern Trust Corp. The first lady has her own checking account; the president doesn’t.