Thursday, September 20, 2007

Illusionary Prosperity: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

House Prices and Subprime Mortgage Delinquencies

The Good:

The Bad:

The Ugly:
Subprime mortgage lending and mitigating foreclosures
Adjustable-rate subprime mortgages originated in late 2005 and in 2006 have performed the worst, with some of them defaulting after only one or two payments (or even no payment at all). Relative to earlier vintages, more of these loans carried greater risks beyond weak borrower credit histories—including very high initial cumulative loan-to-value ratios and less documentation of borrower income. In addition, the sharp deceleration in home prices since 2005, including outright declines in some markets, left many of these more-recent borrowers with little or no home equity. In this situation, some borrowers (particularly owner-investors) may have found that simply walking away from their properties was their best option. Moreover, low home equity has made refinancing—the typical way for many subprime borrowers to avoid large scheduled interest rate resets—difficult or impossible for many. Thus, with house prices still soft and many borrowers of recent-vintage subprime ARMs still facing their first interest rate resets, delinquencies and foreclosure initiations in this class of mortgages are likely to rise further.

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