‘Liar Loans’ Make a Comeback
Banks Are Quietly Reestablishing Mortgages That Don’t Require Income Documentation
By Stephane Fitch
Did you think the housing collapse killed off “liar loans”–those infamous bubble-era mortgages for which people were allowed to get creative in portraying their ability to make the payments? Well, they’re back, and that may be a good thing.
All the rage during the peak of the housing boom, these mortgages went by names like “no-doc” (meaning no documentation of income required), “low-doc” or “stated-income” mortgages. In all cases, banks set aside their underwriting standards based on what borrowers could prove they were earning with pay stubs, tax returns and the like. Instead, lenders started trusting borrowers to “forecast” future income and underwrote loans based on those projections (using as a fallback the house itself as collateral).
In the height of the housing boom in 2006 and 2007, low-doc loans accounted for roughly 40% of newly issued mortgages in the U.S., according to mortgage-data firm FirstAmerican CoreLogic. University of Chicago assistant professor Amit Seru says that for subprime loans, the portion exceeded 50%.