What is a Subprime Loan?
A subprime loan is a loan offered to individuals who do not qualify for conventional loans. Such individuals have low income, limited credit history, or poor credit. The subprime option is available in the majority of loans, including auto loans and personal loans. In the case of these loans, the creditors focus on the repayment ability of the borrowers instead of their credit score.
Although there is no cut-off of credit score for many conventional loans, individuals with a credit score of less than 650 find it difficult to secure a conventional loan. Subprime loans are meant to assist people with limited credit history in qualifying for loans and help them in financing their requirements. Borrowers may be financially capable to repay a loan but unable to secure a loan due to their poor credit.
- A subprime loan is a loan offered to individuals who are unable to qualify for conventional loans.
- The subprime option is available in the majority of loans, including auto loans and personal loans.
- Subprime loans provide opportunities to borrowers to buy homes and other things; however, borrowers can default, owing to higher interest rates, which lowers their credit score further.
Subprime Loan Types
Some of the common types of subprime loans are as follows:
1. Interest-Only Subprime Loan
The borrowers are allowed to pay only the interest amount during the starting period of the loan. Hence, the starting monthly payments become more affordable allowing for the possibility of faster repayments. However, when the payments increase afterward, the difference can be quite steep.
2. Fixed-Rate Subprime Loan
The rate of interest for such loans remain constant for the entire duration of the loan. However, the loan duration is usually longer than the average loan. While the usual loan is about 30 years, the duration of a fixed-rate subprime loan may extend up to 50 years. Thus, the aggregate interest paid on a fixed-rate loan tends to be higher.
3. Adjustable-Rate Subprime Loan
The rate of interest of such loans remains constant for the starting of the loan and later on changes to a variable rate. The interest rate for the later period of the loan will vary along with the market.
4. Dignity Subprime Loan
The borrowers are required to record a down payment equal to 10% of the subprime loan and accept a higher rate of interest for the starting period of the loan – a commonly used time frame is five years. If the borrowers pay timely for the starting duration of the loan, the interest rate eventually reduces to the prime rate.
Characteristics of Subprime Loan Borrowers
The borrowers of subprime loans have certain characteristics in common. These are as follows:
- Low income
- A credit score below 650
- A debt-to-income ratio equal to or greater than 0.5
- Poor credit history
- Credit cards or loan payments are delayed
- Have been bankrupt once in the past 60 months
- Had a foreclosure in the past 24 months
- New business, retiree or self-employed
If a borrower has any of the above characteristics, it does not imply that he/she will not be able to secure a loan; however, it becomes difficult. The borrower should resolve any debt or credit issues before applying for a loan to increase the probability of approval and reduce the interest rate applicable on the loan.
Benefits of a Subprime Loan
- Borrowers with low or poor credit score can qualify for subprime loans that include many loans, such as mortgages and personal loans.
- A subprime loan consolidates debt, causing payments to be easier and helping borrowers to pay off debts.
- If borrowers keep making timely payments on subprime loans, their credit scores might improve.
- Subprime loans provide opportunities to borrowers to buy homes and other things that they would not have been able to fund otherwise.
Limitations of a Subprime Loan
- Subprime loans carry high risks to creditors, leading to higher rates of interest for borrowers.
- Subprime loans charge higher interest rates; hence, borrowers can default and lower their credit score further.
- Higher rates of interest than conventional loans can lead to higher monthly interest payments.
- Uninformed borrowers are charged high interest rates and other fees by predatory lenders.
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