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Confessions of a Subprime Lender: An Insider's Tale of Greed, Fraud, and Ignorance Paperback – June 16, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...packed with tales of crooked brokers, deceitful customers, avaricious Wall Street banks and all too obliging credit rating agencies." (The Guardian, September 19, 2008)

"If this is even near the truth, it is remarkable...Bitner's book was more firmly rooted in the world we live in." (Prospect Magazine, October, 2008)

"...pulls back the curtain on the players who created the subprime disaster...In a breezy style and from a special vantage" (Pensions World, November 2008)

From the Back Cover

Real Estate

One insider's rollercoaster account of the subprime implosion

Richard Bitner founded his own subprime mortgage company just as the industry took off. In five years, he watched his company grow from a tiny operation to a booming business. But something wasn't right...

As housing prices skyrocketed, Bitner watched greed and fraud overtake the industry. Eventually, he became disenchanted after foreclosing on a subprime borrower who was given a legitimate, industry-standard mortgage—a loan Bitner realized never should have been made. Seeing the ugly writing on the wall, he sold his stake in the business before the industry imploded under a mountain of bad debt.

Confessions of a Subprime Lender pulls back the curtain on the players who created the subprime disaster, including brokers, lenders, Wall Street investment firms, and rating agencies who worked the system to their advantage. From his unique perspective as a subprime lender, Bitner reveals:

  • Why nearly three out of every four mortgages were misleading or fraudulent

  • How unscrupulous brokers tricked lenders and gullible borrowers

  • How brokers and lenders turned unqualified applicants into "qualified borrowers"

  • Why Wall Street and the rating agencies are largely to blame for the collapse

Interwoven with dramatic personal anecdotes, Confessions of a Subprime Lender explains how the subprime industry blew up and concludes with a comprehensive solution for rebuilding it by forcing changes on all the key players.

"Bitner's thorough review of the subprime lending industry provides a behind-the-scenes look at the mortgage mess. From the broker on Main Street to the investor on Wall Street, it's an unabridged version of what went wrong and how it needs to be fixed."
—Bill Dallas, founder, First Franklin Mortgage, one of America's largest subprime lenders, before it collapsed

"This is an in-depth, eye-opening examination of the problems impacting the housing and mortgage markets."
—Matthew McIntyre, CEO, Puritan Financial Group, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470402199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470402191
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. B. Sims on July 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Wow(!), there sure are a lot of reviews here that make this book sound like the definitive work for explaining the mortgage meltdown. I'm not the smartest bulb in the room (at all) when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I found I knew most of what was discussed in the book before I read it. To be sure, it's an easy read (of the lazy summer weekend kind) and a fun one (lots of incompetent borrowers, sleazy brokers and greedy investors - this is mostly an anecdotal book), and it does a pretty good job of simplifiying things, but in the end, I was disappointed. Worth the money and the time, but less substance than I expected.

The thing that irked me the most is that Bitner REALLY lets himself (and to a large degree, other lenders) off the hook here. Oh sure, in the end he says he blames himself too, and 'gee gosh', he should have known better, but I never get the impression he really means it or takes any real responsibility. Of all the institutions and people he blames for this mortgage mess, he makes it sound as if his group is the least culpable,- caught between crooked brokers and greedy investors. I just don't buy it. In the end, he's too self-serving, and trying to have it both ways. I get the impression he wants the reader to feel sorry for him, and I don't.

While I appreciate the fact that he did write this rather light examination of the subprime industry, I can't get past the fact that he made lots and lots of money exploiting the system, as he exploits the mess now by selling a book about it. And all the time, there are a lot of folks who have been screwed and thier lives turned upside down, partially because of his actions.

In the end, all of us are paying and will continue to pay for his (and of course, many others') unethical behavior.
Doesn't sound to me like he's changed; he's just found another angle.
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Format: Paperback
I read Richard Bitner's book from cover to cover and did not want to put it down. As one who has been in the mortgage business for over 30 years, working in various industry segments including retail origination, wholesale lending, correspondent lending and private mortgage guaranty insurance (residential loan default insurance), I was impressed by how Richard managed to put all the key pieces together on the subprime crisis and did it with such an honest, insightful and refreshing candor.

After all my years in a business that insured lenders and mortgage investors against residential mortgage loan defaults, I understood we were headed for trouble with massive mortgage defaults, simply due to all the irresponsible lending practices with loan programs that had multiple layers of risk where buyers had little or no skin in the game and originators had even less. There is lots of blame to go around and Bitner does not spare any of the many participants from being assigned their contribution to the crisis.

As my friend used to say: "This has got to be true because you couldn't make this stuff up." That clearly applies to Bitner's weaving of such a bizarre, but sadly true story. I used to use an expression of my Grandmother's about the subprime "stuff" I observed in the mortgage industry and what I felt would happen. I said: "The chickens will be coming home to roost." Bither gives a great account of how all those eggs got laid and how the fox was in charge of the hen house. This crisis in housing and mortgage finance has already been devastating and it is far from being over. This is an easy read to gain a keen insight in what happened and how it happened. Whether you in the lending industry or not, chances are you have been impacted directly or indirectly by this debacle. Reading this book will help you understand the who, what, when, where and why. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will basically confirm what you already know about Subprime loans, if you believe that lots of people knew the system was broken, but chose to look the other way because it was profitable. The author talks about how the system encouraged and accomodated fraudulent players, while "consciencious" players (such as the author's firm, of course) played by the rules and remained completely above the fray. The author was shocked by the behavior of other subprime middlemen, but his company made millions and grew due by focusing on these types of loans.

It's a quick read, and useful if you know nothing about the industry, as it identifies the basic players participating in the provision of subprime loans, and their functions. I suspect you could get as basic a primer on the internet for free, without the specific examples provided of system abuses.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This may only be one man's opinion of the entire Subprime industry, but it's a fantastic primer for somebody who has little knowledge of finance. No, it's not a full, in-depth analysis - it's more of an entertaining story with enough information in it for the reader to have a basic understanding.

Bitner co-owned a subprime mortgage lender and got out before the industry came crashing down. His book tells the story of how over a few short years the subprime mortgage sector went from a legitimate way of helping those with poor credit own a home to a free-for-all with little to no oversight. He explains concepts like the secondary mortgage market and securitization in a way that most people can understand the concepts. What makes this book a worthwhile read, though, is all of his firsthand stories of buyers who are unprepared, brokers who knowingly commit fraud, and mortgage companies who stack the deck against the lenders. These stories are the type of things Bitner would probably tell you over a couple of drinks at a party, and they're absolutely shocking - photoshopped W2s, false home appraisals, and buyers signing adjustable rate mortgages with no knowledge that their monthly payment would face a massive increase in less than a year. These stories are what will string you along and keep you reading.

This book is a great read for a Saturday in a hammock if you're tired of fiction for a while. No, it's probably not 100% accurate, and since the book was written in 2008 it could use a second edition to examine the rest of the fallout. Is it worth $15 at the bookstore? Probably not. But I'd pick it up from the library in a heartbeat if I were you.
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