Subprime borrowers typically have weakened credit histories and reduced repayment capacity. Subprime loans have a higher risk of default than loans to prime borrowers. If a borrower is delinquent in making timely mortgage payments to the loan servicer (a bank or other financial firm), the lender may take possession of the property, in a process called foreclosure.
The value of American subprime mortgages was estimated at $1.3 trillion as of March 2007, with over 7.5 million first-lien subprime mortgages outstanding. Between 2004–2006 the share of subprime mortgages relative to total originations ranged from 18%–21%, versus less than 10% in 2001–2003 and during 2007. The boom in mortgage lending, including subprime lending, was also driven by a fast expansion of non-bank independent mortgage originators which despite their smaller share (around 25 percent in 2002) in the market have contributed to around 50 percent of the increase in mortgage credit between 2003 and 2005. In the third quarter of 2007, subprime ARMs making up only 6.8% of USA mortgages outstanding also accounted for 43% of the foreclosures which began during that quarter.
By October 2007, approximately 16% of subprime adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) were either 90-days delinquent or the lender had begun foreclosure proceedings, roughly triple the rate of 2005. By January 2008, the delinquency rate had risen to 21% and by May 2008 it was 25%.
According to RealtyTrac, the value of all outstanding residential mortgages, owed by U.S. households to purchase residences housing at most four families, was US$9.9 trillion as of year-end 2006, and US$10.6 trillion as of midyear 2008. During 2007, lenders had begun foreclosure proceedings on nearly 1.3 million properties, a 79% increase over 2006. This increased to 2.3 million in 2008, an 81% increase vs. 2007, and again to 2.8 million in 2009, a 21% increase vs. 2008.
By August 2008, 9.2% of all U.S. mortgages outstanding were either delinquent or in foreclosure. By September 2009, this had risen to 14.4%. Between August 2007 and October 2008, 936,439 USA residences completed foreclosure. Foreclosures are concentrated in particular states both in terms of the number and rate of foreclosure filings. Ten states accounted for 74% of the foreclosure filings during 2008; the top two (California and Florida) represented 41%. Nine states were above the national foreclosure rate average of 1.84% of households.
From September 2008 to September 2012, there were approximately 3.9 million completed foreclosures in the U.S. As of September 2012, approximately 1.4 million homes, or 3.3% of all homes with a mortgage, were in some stage of foreclosure compared to 1.5 million, or 3.5%, in September 2011. During September 2012, 57,000 homes completed foreclosure; this is down from 83,000 the prior September but well above the 2000-2006 average of 21,000 completed foreclosures per month.
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