An Experian-sponsored study of subprime consumers, released today, found that borrowers with a credit score of 620 or lower are turning an age-old mortgage industry axiom on its head: subprime consumers say they are now more likely to pay down credit card debt and let their mortgage become delinquent than the other way around. Traditional thinking in the industry has usually held the opposite position: that consumers always paid their mortgage, even if they couldn’t afford anything else. “The current marketplace debate and increased visibility on subprime lending led us to examine historical consumer payment trends to see if they have shifted,” said Kerry Williams, president, Experian Information Solutions group. “Interestingly, our data revealed that many consumers in the subprime segment have adjusted their payment patterns in order to better manage their personal finances.” The study also found that between 2005 and 2006, outstanding mortgage balances for subprime consumers increased 8.8 percent, while total outstanding mortgage balances grew only by 3.3 percent. It sounds like it may be time to reconsider assumptions underlying some of those predictive models surrounding subprime lending.

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