WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve on Tuesday made available a new set of online interactive maps designed to provide a clearer, more localized view of where problem mortgages are.
The maps, maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will be updated monthly. They provide a local look at conditions for the two categories of mortgage loans that are most in distress: sub-prime and alt-A mortgage loans.
Sub-prime loans were given to borrowers with the weakest credit histories; alt-A mortgages were issued to borrowers whose credit is better than sub-prime but not quite good enough to be considered prime, or top quality.
Lending in these two categories has virtually frozen as mortgage issuers won't make loans that can't be sold into a secondary market, where they're pooled with other mortgages into mortgage-backed bonds and sold to investors. Lending standards in these two categories weakened substantially from 2001 to 2006, setting the stage for a nationwide decline in home prices and sales.
The Federal Reserve hopes that by making maps and data available online about non-prime mortgages down to levels as specific as ZIP codes, it'll be easier to identify potential and current problem spots for foreclosures.
"We're not interpreting the data for people, we are just hoping they use it as a resource," said Andrew Williams, a spokesman for the New York Fed.
Community groups can use the information to better focus their outreach and foreclosure-prevention efforts. Local governments can use it to make decisions on where they spend resources on housing.
Among the data that the maps provide are the number of loans per 1,000 housing units; the number of these in foreclosure; the share of loans that carry adjustable-rate mortgages; the share that will have their first rate reset higher within 12 months; and the share of loans with late payments during the past 12 months. The maps also show the share of loans in delinquent status.
ON THE WEB
Zoom in on your ZIP code.