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KAI RYSSDAL: So, what do we have? Generally speaking, the mortgage industry can’t come up with cash. And mortgage companies are laying people off, or worse, going bankrupt. And yet, investors are smiling on one slice of the mortgage market — the good, old-fashioned thrift. Our New York bureau chief Jill Barshay reports.
Jill Barshay: One of the main ways mortgage lenders get money to issue home loans is through the secondary market. They sell your mortgages to investors and use the cash to issue new loans.
Bob Davis is with America’s Community Bankers. It represents the Savings and Loan or thrift industry. He says the current market turmoil is good news for thrifts.
Bob Davis: The problem in the market today exists because the institutional investor market, the secondary market, is frozen up for certain types of loans. That’s not the case for institutions that hold the loans and fund them with deposits. That is a traditional business that savings associations or savings and loans have engaged in.
Thrifts still have easy access to money because people are still depositing into savings and checking accounts. Thrifts currently make about 25 percent of all residential mortgages. Now that big mortgage lenders are having problems, Davis predicts S&L’s market share will grow.
Douglas Hughes is president of Banknewsletter.com which tracks the thrift industry. He says investors piled into S&L stocks when they realized those lenders have hardly any exposure to subprime.
Douglas Hughes: Thrifts especially made new lows and new highs within a 48-hour period for the year. Never seen something like that in my life.
Remember the S&L crisis in the ’80s? Investors who do might find it ironic that thrifts are a safe haven now. But homebuyers shouldn’t expect an easy ride from thrifts. They may be lending, but experts say many thrifts’ underwriting standards are high and their rates may be going up too.
In New York, I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.
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