2007 Departures: Exotic mortgages dry up amid subprime fallout

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.