Industry NewsMortgage

Subprime tsunami threatens to extend housing downturn

Part 1: Risk not only from defaults, but also tighter regulations and standards

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Editor's note: This is part one of a four-part series on the crisis in subprime mortgage lending. Part one looks at how economic events like the dot-com stock market bust and the flow of global investment capital helped ease access to credit, fueling a housing boom. (Read Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.) There's growing concern that easy access to credit, rather than fundamentals like housing supply, demographic trends and wage growth, was the primary driver of a dramatic run up in housing prices during the housing boom. And if lenders gave rise to the housing boom, then lenders -- and those who fund and regulate them -- may also taketh away. As subprime lenders go belly up or lose access to funding in an avalanche of delinquencies and foreclosures, there are fears that a glut of real estate-owned homes, or REOs, could flood the market, and depress prices in the hardest-hit areas.  Upwards of $500 billion in adjustable-rate first-lien mortgages are set to reset this year, at a time when...