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Subprime Mortgage Lending - What's Wrong With It?

Jul 28, 2008
For the past couple of years, it seems that every time you open a newspaper or turn on the television, you come up against the subject of subprime lending. Everyone seems to have something negative to say about it. You'd think it was the root of all evil!

It's true that subprime lending has many things about it that are not especially positive. For example, for whom was subprime lending designed? For the subprime, not-quite-good-enough borrower, of course. Often, the person who finds it necessary to borrow at subprime is the person whose credit rating is a bit tarnished, and therefore someone who is considered more likely to default on the loan. Subprime lenders generally specialize in this area. They tend to charge more, both in fees and in interest rates, to make up for the increase in risk of default.

How did we allow this to happen? It has a lot to do with greed. Borrowers were greedy, and wanted a way to buy houses they really could not afford. Subprime lenders and mortgage brokers were greedy, and offered mortgages to people they knew shouldn't be borrowing money at all. Add easy-to-access money and low interest rates into the mix, and it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, you could borrow on the equity in your home - an amount equivalent to 125% of its value. While interest rates were low, many people began refinancing their homes, or taking out lines of credit and loans on their home equity. At the same time, American real estate markets were growing faster than ever before. These individuals figured it would be easy to sell their homes, or refinance again, if they wanted to. Such extravagant growth led to a sudden, but inevitable, decline in the housing market.

At this point, these people are in a real bind. They are unable to sell their houses: the value is nowhere near the amount of the mortgages they hold. They are in a position of negative equity: that is, the mortgage is more than the value of the house, and their savings are insufficient to fill the gap. They may have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) that escalates regularly. That's a whole lot of trouble for a whole lot of people! Foreclosures on homes are at a record high. These foreclosures will make the situation even worse, as houses are sold at auction for a fraction of their full market value.

There are several other kinds of subprime loans out there that may look tempting to a borrower who has no money for a deposit. An 80/20 mortgage is one of these. This one is the epitome of greed; no borrower with an ounce of financial responsibility should even consider these loans. Eighty per cent of the asking price is borrowed through a conventional fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage. Then you borrow the remaining 20% of the price as a loan on your home equity. The rate of the latter mortgage will be higher. The lender can decide to readjust some of these mortgages on a whim. Negative amortization mortgages and interest-only mortgages are also motivated by greed. Both types benefit only the lender, not the borrower; as time goes by, the loan just gets bigger. Although monthly payments are not too large during the five-year or ten-year term of the loan, none of the principal has been repaid, and there is an enormous "balloon payment" awaiting the borrower when the term ends.

These are a few of the things that are wrong with subprime lending. Keep an eye out for mortgage plans that actually are of greatest benefit to the lender!
About the Author
Learn more about Interagency Statement On Subprime Mortgage Lending as well as Statement On Subprime Mortgage Lending only at http://www.subprimelendingcrisis.com, the premier resource portal on subprime lending crisis.
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