What is a subprime mortgage?

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    Jordan Moore
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    Team StellarFi
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    A subprime mortgage is a type of loan available to borrowers who may not qualify for traditional mortgages due to their credit history or financial circumstances.

    This can include people with missed payments, a high debt-to-income ratio, or even past bankruptcies. While subprime mortgages often come with higher interest rates and risks, they can also offer an opportunity for homeownership to those who might otherwise be excluded.

    To qualify for a subprime mortgage, your credit score generally needs to be between 580 and 619. (You need a score of at least 620 to qualify for a conventional mortgage.) Additionally, your debt-to-income ratio should be below 50%.

    Just remember, the higher your credit score and the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better your loan terms will be.

    There are different types of subprime mortgages: fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, interest-only, and dignity mortgages

    • Fixed-Rate: This is the most familiar option. Your interest rate stays the same throughout the entire loan term, typically 15-30 years for conventional mortgages. However, with subprime fixed-rate loans, the term can stretch up to 40-50 years, meaning smaller monthly payments but significantly higher total interest paid over time.

    • Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM): ARMs offer a tempting initial low-interest rate, often fixed for the first few years. But be warned: the rate will adjust periodically (e.g., annually) based on market conditions, potentially leading to significant increases in your monthly payments down the line.

    • Interest-Only: This option can seem like a temporary relief, as your monthly payments only cover the accumulated interest for the first 7-10 years. However, after that period, your payments will jump significantly to cover both the principal and interest, potentially exceeding your initial affordability calculations.

    • Dignity Mortgage: This hybrid option combines elements of both subprime and conventional loans. You make a larger down payment (usually 10%) compared to other subprime options, but your initial interest rate is higher. However, consistent on-time payments can eventually reward you with a lower “prime rate,” the same rate offered to borrowers with good credit.

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StellarFinance, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

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