Credit History and the Performance of Prime and Nonprime Mortgages

Posted: 10 Jul 2003


Although nonprime lending has experienced steady or even explosive growth over the last decade very little is known about the performance characteristics of these mortgages.

Using data from national secondary market institutions, this paper estimates a competing risks proportional hazard model, which includes unobserved heterogeneity. The analysis examines the performance of 30 year fixed rate owner occupied home purchase mortgages from February 1995 to the end of 1999 and compares nonprime and prime loan default and prepayment behavior. Nonprime loans are identified by mortgage interest rates that are substantially higher than the prevailing prime rate.

Results indicate that nonprime mortgages differ significantly from prime mortgages: they have different risk characteristics at origination; they default at elevated levels; and they respond differently to the incentives to prepay and default. For instance, nonprime mortgages are less responsive to how much the option to call the mortgage or refinance is in the money and this effect is magnified for mortgages with low credit scores. Tests also reveal that default rates are less responsive to homeowner equity when credit scores are included in the specification.

Keywords: mortgage, performance, default, prepay, prepayment, unobserved heterogeneity, credit history, credit curing

Suggested Citation

Pennington-Cross, Anthony N., Credit History and the Performance of Prime and Nonprime Mortgages. Available at SSRN:

Anthony N. Pennington-Cross (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Dept. of Finance ( email )

P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
United States

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