2007 Departures: Exotic mortgages dry up amid subprime fallout

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While I can't guarantee that there won't be any exotic mortgages lurking out there in 2008, they will be rare and hard to find. You also will need to have stellar credit ratings to qualify for exotic mortgages, because investors have pretty much dried up. The risks of loss are just too high for most mortgage investors.

When exotic mortgages were at the top of their game in 2005, lenders made about $625 billion in subprime loans, and most of these fit into the category of exotic mortgages. Essentially any mortgage that can't be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because it doesn't meet their prime lending terms gets categorized as subprime, even if the borrower is also a candidate for a prime loan. In 2005, about $625 billion of subprime loans were funded. In 2007, that number will drop to about $50 billion, or just about 2% of the mortgage market.

Don't expect to find option ARMs, 0% down mortgage loans (especially if it's an investment property and not your primary home), and ridiculously low teaser rates that jump dramatically in two to three years. Also, many of the balloon loans will be shut out except for those with strong credit histories.

The folks who likely will be hardest hit with this change in market conditions are people who are self-employed and have a difficult time proving income. No doc loans will be hard to find, and probably the rules for getting approval will be very stiff.

Many exotic loans helped to introduce the term upside-down mortgage, which used to be solely for cars when the car was worth less than the loan amount due. With people putting 0% down, and in some cases not even paying all the interest due, mortgages quickly became upside-down as the real estate market weakened.

Good riddance to exotic mortgages, and I hope for the sake of American consumers they never come back.

This post was written as part of a series on on 2007 departures. Read about more products, companies and people you won't see in 2008.

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