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Fewer Defaults Seen in Non-Agency Deals

The loans in non-agency mortgage-backed securities performed better in the majority of 331 metropolitan areas tracked by Friedman Billings Ramsey between October 2004 and October 2005, the investment banking firm said.

Defaults fell among prime loans in 120 metropolitan statistical areas, in 234 MSAs among alt-A loans and in 144 MSAs among subprime loans.

The default rate for deals backed by non-agency home loans declined by 7.9% during that 12-month period, Friedman Billings Ramsey said. In October 2005, the default rate stood at 1.28%.

That follows a similar pattern for securities backed by credit card and automobile loans, which also saw declines in default rates.

However, the trends were not universally positive. While the default rate on subprime loans dropped to 6.16% overall from 6.38% a year earlier, the default rate actually rose in 187 MSAs while falling in only 144.

And the investment bank's analysts said that 56 MSAs in 16 states remain "chronically weak," sporting persistently high default rates. In these markets, subprime pools experienced a weighted average default rate of 13.82%.

The FBR report advises portfolio managers to consider reducing their holdings of securities with an exposure ratio that exceeds 10% in these "chronically weak" markets.

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