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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Defaults on Some `Alt A' Loans Surpass Subprime Ones

The plague is spreading... up market.

" Defaults on some so-called Alt A mortgages packaged into bonds last year are now outpacing those from subprime loans, according to Citigroup Inc.

The three-month constant default rate for 2006 Alt A hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages is 2.3 percent, compared with 2.2 percent for subprime ARMs, New York-based Citigroup analysts led by Rahul Parulekar wrote in a July 20 report. The figures represent the percentage of balances in a mortgage-bond pool expected to default in the next year based on 90-day trends.

The speed at which Alt A hybrid ARMs are being paid off due to home sales or refinancing has also fallen to about the same level as for subprime ARMs, which typically prepay more slowly, the analysts said. Slower prepayments can make the same rates of defaults more damaging by leaving more of the initial balances outstanding to eat into bond-investor protections. "

Alt-A mortgages are just under prime:

" Alt A mortgages, short for Alternative A, are loans that fall just short of the typical underwriting standards of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest mortgage companies. They're usually granted to borrowers with good credit records who seek atypical underwriting or loans, such as reduced proof of their pay, lending on an investment property or so-called option ARMs.

There are a lot of them too:

" More than $800 billion of subprime mortgage bonds and $700 billion of Alt A bonds are outstanding, with ARM bonds totaling more than $600 billion and $450 billion, respectively, according to a March report by Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group. "

Source: Defaults on Some `Alt A' Loans Surpass Subprime Ones (Update1) (