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Banks Tighten Standards on Subprime Mortgages: Fed Survey

A majority of the nation's banks have tightened lending standards on subprime mortgages, the Federal Reserve said Monday in a survey that provided further evidence of the spreading problems in mortgage lending.

The Fed said it found that 56.3 percent of banks responding to a survey reported that they had tightened their lending standards for subprime mortgages, loans offered to borrowers with weak credit histories.

The survey found that 40.5 percent of banks responding said they had tightened loan standards for so-called nontraditional mortgages. The Fed defines this category as adjustable-rate loans with multiple payment options, interest-only mortgages and products referred to as "Alt-A" loans that offer such features as limited verification of incomes.

The Fed survey found that even on prime loans, which offer traditional payment options such as 30-year mortgages to borrowers with strong credit histories, 14.3 percent of the banks responding said they had tightened their lending standards "somewhat."