Industry NewsMortgage

Study finds riskiest lenders’ problems are no secret

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Nearly all of the mortgage lenders who engaged in the riskiest underwriting practices during the housing boom have gone bankrupt, been sold, or curtailed their operations. But Wall Street investors may stay wary of private mortgage-backed securities until home prices stabilize, a new study suggests. A study of 163 of the largest U.S. lenders by SMR Research Corp. determined that all but three of the 28 companies that scored the highest on six measures of credit risk have already closed their doors or have problems that are well-known. Only two of the nation's top 10 lenders -- Countrywide Financial Corp. and HSBC -- scored higher than the national average risk score of 1,000. But investors remain hesitant to provide short-term funding to mortgage lenders or buy securities backed by some types of mortgage loans on the secondary market, suggesting the liquidity crunch won't end until home prices stabilize and investors regain confidence, said Stuart Feldstein, president of Hackettstow...