Unequal access to home mortgages and a changing market structure are burdening with high-cost mortgage debt low-income homebuyers who lack the knowledge to shop for affordable products, according to research by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies.According to center director Nicolas P. Retsinas, new technologies "have spawned a revolution in mortgage finance" enabling millions of low-income families "to obtain home mortgages on favorable terms." However, he said, "The mortgage broker-led 'push marketing' of low-downpayment, high-cost mortgages has left some unsuspecting borrowers with mortgage debt they cannot afford and may not even need." Entitled "Credit, Capital, and Communities: The Implications of the Changing Mortgage Banking Industry for Community Based Organizations," the 18-month study funded by the Ford Foundation was released at a Federal Reserve Board briefing. It found that mortgage brokers are most prevalent in the subprime market, where they accounted for almost 45% of subprime home mortgage originations in 2002 -- 16 percentage points higher than their share of prime mortgage originations.

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