Lax underwriting and fraud may account for as much as 25% of the underperformance of the 2006 vintage of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities transactions, according to Fitch Ratings.Fitch said the high delinquency and default rates of recent-vintage subprime RMBS have many causes, including declining home prices and "the prevalence of high-risk mortgage products" such as stated-income loans and those with combined loan-to-value ratios of 100%. "In the absence of effective underwriting, products such as 'no-money-down' and 'stated-income' mortgages appear to have become vehicles for misrepresentation or fraud by participants throughout the origination process," said Fitch managing director Diane Pendley. "During the rapidly rising home price environment of the past few years, the ability of the borrower to refinance or quickly resell the property prior to the loan defaulting masked the true risk of these products and the presence of misrepresentation and fraud." The rating agency can be found online at http://www.fitchratings.com.

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