As the word “Sub” itself suggests -“less than ideal“.
The term “subprime” refers to the credit status of the borrower, which is being less than ideal. Subprime lending is a general term that refers to the practice of making loans to borrowers who do not qualify for the best market interest rates because of their deficient credit history.
Why the risk –
Subprime lending is risky for both lenders and borrowers due to the combination of high interest rates, poor credit history, and adverse financial situations usually associated with subprime applicants.
Sub Prime Borrowers –
The sub prime borrowers have a weak credit history which includes – charge offs, payment delinquencies, bankruptcies, low debt to income ratio, etc.
Why the crises –
Subprime lending refers to the practice of offering loans to people who do not qualify for the normal loans. When it comes to approving a loan, banks take into account the repaying capacity of the borrower and his credit history. If a person is not credit worthy or is a defaulter elsewhere, he cannot be given a normal “prime loan”. So as to target such persons, banks came up with a novel idea of “sub prime lending”.
Here the risk is more for the bank. So to set off the higher risk, banks commanding a higher risk premium and hence the interest rate is also higher. As a result of higher interest rates, banks could earn more money then what they would have normally got if they had gone for “prime lending”.
The subprime lending crisis began with a series of defaults by borrowers who were offered loans at higher interest rates because of their lower repayment capacity. First of all, the borrowers who were offered subprime mortgages had a poor credit history and then the higher interest rates charged only increased the burden on these borrowers and made it tougher for them to honour their mortgages, even if they had the intention to do so. This caused a series of defaults which is now commonly known as the subprime mortgage lending crisis.
Subprime mortgages and Sub Prime Credit Cards