A recent report in the Wall Street Journal has shown that auto lenders are pursuing an unlikely growth market: people who have fallen behind on their mortgages and those with less than sterling credit. In the first three quarters of 2011, auto lenders issued roughly 205,000 loans to borrowers whose credit records showed they had been at least 60 days past due on their mortgage or experienced a foreclosure, up from roughly 80,000 during the same period in 2006.
The trend seems surprising, but there are reasons the auto industry is embracing the subprime category (individuals with a credit score below 619). For one the industry is seeing fewer bad auto loans; the amount of repossessions has actually fallen in recent years. Also, the recession has lead to more people choosing to keep to date on their credit card payments and car loans as opposed to making their mortgage payments on time. The auto industry also realizes this move opens the market to significantly more prospects. Today, more than half of all consumers fall into non-prime, subprime and deep subprime categories. These individuals carry a credit score below 679.
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