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What are 'Liar Loans'?

Liar loans, often referred to as NINJA (No Income, No Job, No Asset) loans or subprime loans, were a category of mortgages that were approved with little to no supporting documents or evidence of the borrower's financial situation. The loans gained popularity in the middle of the 2000s, especially during the housing bubble that caused the financial catastrophe of 2008. These loans were made available by lenders to borrowers who were unable to provide the usual verification of their income, assets, or work status. The phrase "liar loans" refers to the fact that lenders would not verify assertions made by borrowers regarding their financial position.

Mortgage lenders used liar loans as a strategy to increase their clientele and profit. With conventional mortgages, borrowers had to provide extensive documentation to prove their income, assets, and employment history. Liar loans, on the other hand, allowed borrowers to state their income and assets on the loan application without providing any documentation.

One type of liar loan was the stated income/stated asset (SISA) loan. With this type of loan, borrowers stated their income and assets on the loan application but did not have to provide any documentation to back up their claims. Another type of liar loan was the no income/no asset (NINA) loan, where borrowers did not have to provide any proof of income or assets.

Liar loans were particularly popular with self-employed borrowers who had irregular income streams and found it difficult to document their earnings. They were also popular with borrowers who did not have a steady job or income. In some cases, borrowers even lied about their income or employment status to qualify for a larger mortgage than they could afford.

The proliferation of liar loans led to a housing bubble in the mid-2000s. As more and more people were able to obtain mortgages, housing prices skyrocketed, leading to a surge in demand for homes. However, the demand was not sustainable, and when housing prices started to fall, many borrowers found themselves underwater on their mortgages - owing more on their homes than the homes were worth.

The financial crisis that followed was in part caused by the collapse of the housing market. Many borrowers who had obtained liar loans were unable to afford their mortgage payments and defaulted on their loans. This, in turn, led to a wave of foreclosures and a collapse of the housing market.

The financial crisis led to increased scrutiny of the mortgage industry and a crackdown on fraudulent lending practices. Many lenders who had engaged in such practices faced legal action and settlements with the government. For example, Bank of America settled with the government for $16.65 billion over misleading loans that contributed to the financial crisis.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, regulations were put in place to prevent a repeat of the housing bubble and to protect borrowers from predatory lending practices. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, for example, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has the authority to regulate the mortgage industry and protect consumers from abusive lending practices.

Today, it is much more difficult to obtain a mortgage without providing extensive documentation of income, assets, and employment history. Lenders are required to verify the borrower's claims, and there are strict guidelines for what types of loans can be offered.

However, some critics argue that the regulations put in place after the financial crisis have made it too difficult for some borrowers to obtain a mortgage. For example, some self-employed borrowers still find it difficult to document their income, even if they have a stable income stream. Others argue that the regulations have made it too difficult for low-income borrowers to obtain a mortgage, even if they are able to make the payments.

Liar loans were a type of mortgage that was granted with little or no documentation or proof of the borrower's financial standing. They became popular in the mid-2000s during the housing bubble that led to the 2008 financial crisis and were a key factor in the crisis. While regulations have since been put in place to prevent a repeat of the housing bubble and protect consumers from predatory lending practices, some argue that these regulations have made it too difficult for certain borrowers to obtain a mortgage.

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