Zero-Down Subprime Mortgages Are Back, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, banks are once again taking bets on the same type of loans that nearly collapsed the economy amid a flurry of emergency bailouts and unprecedented consolidations. 

Bank of America has backed a $10 billion program from Boston-based brokerage Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), to offer zero-down mortgages to low-income borrowers with poor credit scores, according to CNBC. NACA has been conducting four-day events in cities across America to educate subprime borrowers and then lend them money - with a 90% approval rate and interest rates around 4.5%


"It's total upside," said AJ Barkley, senior vice president of consumer lending at BofA. "We have seen significant wins in this partnership. Just to be clear, when we get those loans with all the heavy lifting here, we're over a 90 percent approval, meaning 90 percent of the people who go through this program that we actually underwrite the loans."

Borrowers can have low credit scores, but have to go through an education session about the program and submit all necessary documents, from income statements to phone bills. Then they go through counseling to understand their monthly budget and ensure they can afford the mortgage payment. The loans are 15- or 30-year fixed with interest rates below market, about 4.5 percent. -CNBC


"That's what's going to help people who've been locked out of homeownership to really become homeowners and to build wealth," said Bruce Marks, CEO of NACA. "It's a national disgrace about the low amount of homeownership, mortgages for low- and moderate-income people and for minority homebuyers." 



NACA founder Bruce Marks

To participate in the NACA lending scheme, borrowers can  have credit scores - but will need to go through the education course and submit all necessary documents, "from income statements to phone bills," reports CNBC. Then they undergo budget counseling to ensure they can afford the mortgage. 


Following the financial crisis, lenders locked up, requiring much higher credit scores and at least 3 percent down payments. The subprime mortgage crisis was precipitated by lenders offering no-down payment loans with short-term "teaser" rates as low as zero. They asked for no documentation, and sometimes tacked interest onto later years of the loan, so-called, negative amortization loans. The NACA loans are all fixed rate with full documentation. -CNBC



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