June 23, 2008
Housing markets contracted for a second straight year in 2007. The national median single-family home price fell in nominal terms for the first time in 40 years of recordkeeping, leaving several million homeowners with properties worth less than their mortgages. With the economy softening and many home loans resetting to higher rates, an increasing number of owners had difficulty keeping current on their payments. Mortgage performance—especially on subprime loans with adjustable rates—eroded badly. Lenders responded by tightening underwriting standards and demanding a higher risk premium, accelerating the ongoing slide in sales and starts…
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