The Real Deal New York

Speculators’ role in housing downturn bigger than expected

February 06, 2008 09:44AM

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Lenders analyzing defaulted mortgages are finding more borrowers who bought homes for investments than they expected. Many lied on their applications, saying they planned to live in homes to get better loan terms. During the housing boom, about 20 percent of borrowers falsely claimed to live in properties they were buying, committing “occupancy fraud,” according to an analysis by BasePoint Analytics of California. Fitch Ratings studied 45 subprime loans (taken by borrowers with good credit) that defaulted within the first 12 months and found that two-thirds said they planned to live in the property but never did. Some builders now say up to one in four home buyers in some markets were investors, up from earlier estimates of one in 10 buyers. 

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